Herseth Wikipedia continues; Whalen Says Debate, Herseth says let's wait. Thune says internet rumors are things to hate.
The battle continued Tuesday between the campaigns of Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth and her Republican challenger Bruce Whalen over unfounded rumors about Herseth's personal life.And as it did, Republican Sen. John Thune said his experience with "all types of sordid, false rumors" about his own personal life made him especially sympathetic toward Herseth.
Phony information on a Web site said Herseth was pregnant and engaged to her "chief of staff," a man identified by a name that belongs to no one on the congresswoman's staff. In an e-mail message sent to political Web logs, Whalen campaign manager Lee Breard highlighted the farce and also mentioned another rumor that implied Herseth was a "home-wrecker" because of her relationship with a former congressman from Texas.
Thune said such unwarranted gossip is one of the negatives in high-profile public service.
"I sympathize with Stephanie on this one," he said. "I guess you have to come back to the fact that this is an unfortunate part of being in public life, especially with the Internet."
Neither Whalen or Herseth responded to requests, made through their staffs, for interviews on the issue Tuesday. Levsen said Whalen had "confronted" Herseth at a powwow in Pine Ridge on Sunday and asked about the Wikipedia claim.
"He approached her and confronted her and said, 'Is it true?'" Levsen said. "She said, 'I can't believe you're asking that.' And he asked again if it was true. And she said, 'No, Bruce, it isn't true.'"
Breard said by e-mail Tuesday that the exchange Sunday began after Herseth rejected a challenge from Whalen to debate in front of the powwow crowd.
"She said, 'Your manager needs to apologize to me,'" Breard said. "Mr. Whalen stated, 'Well, is it true, in reference to that you are now pro-life?' She responded with, 'I cannot believe that you asked me that.'"
"They've been trying to circulate false rumors about me and my family and my personal life for years," he (Thune) said.
"It's frustrating, because there's no way to refute. It's not like you have a forum to bat this stuff down."
Internet communications make the rumor mill even more powerful, and harmful, he said.
Read it all here. For a little more clarification on the pow wow debate challenge alluded to in the article, the Whalen campaign sent out a press release on the issue yesterday. From the release:
While shaking hands with Ms. Herseth he turned to the announcer and suggested to him, “Ms. Herseth and I could have a debate in front of pow wow attendees since we are both immediately present. I then turned back to Ms. Herseth and challenged her to a debate in front of pow wow attendees since there may never be a more opportune time or place for Indian people to see a Congressional debate”. Mr. Whalen suggested to Ms. Herseth that we could express our opinions “right here and right now” so these people know where we stand on issues of local concern.I went and checked both Herseth's campaign site and congressional website, but didn't see any press releases on it from her side, so I don't have a corresponding release in response.
Before the pow wow announcer could offer a reply Ms. Herseth sharply declined by responding, “No, I told you we will debate later in the fall” before promptly exiting the building. “Prior to Sunday, I had not personally discussed a debate schedule with Ms. Herseth. Had she accepted my challenge it would have been a historical event to debate before the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.” Voter registration of Shannon County, where the Pine Ridge Village rests, is primarily with the Democratic Party. It seems that Ms. Herseth was not inclined to share her opinions with her party members.
And I'm sure this battle will continue to rage on.