Dole rejects debate idea, speaks alone to Carolina broadcasters

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole had an audience of N.C. broadcasters to herself Monday after a plan for her to debate Democratic opponent Kay Hagan fell through.

Dole spoke about broadcast issues, including those involving the advent of digital TV. But most of her remarks were devoted to issues such as energy, taxes and housing.

Speaking to about 150 members of the N.C. Association of Broadcasters at the Grove Park Inn, she called for attacking high fuel prices through conservation and increasing oil supplies in part by allowing off-shore drilling.

On energy and other issues, Dole said, "We need to put politics aside."

Wade Hargrove, the group's longtime attorney, said broadcasters invited both Senate campaigns to debate and that Hagan's accepted while Dole's did not.

Dole had accepted an earlier invitation to keynote the broadcasters' convention.

"The U.S. government has direct regulatory authority for the broadcast industry," Hargrove said. "We would have invited her whether there was a campaign or not."

Brian Nick, Dole's chief of staff, said the debate proposal came up late.

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