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HATCH AGREES TO MEET SHEA IN 4 PUBLIC DEBATES

Sen. Orrin Hatch has accepted four public debates, and it's likely Democratic challenger Pat Shea will agree - so the pair will have at least four face-to-face meetings this campaign.

Shea has been critical of Hatch, saying the 18-year incumbent is sidestepping him. Hatch aides have vehemently denied that, saying the senator is busy with Washington work and would debate Shea when possible.Heather Barney, Hatch campaign spokesperson, said Friday that Hatch will appear at a University of Utah debate, probably on Oct. 27; at a Brigham Young University debate, probably on Oct. 20; at a debate sponsored by the Utah Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, scheduled for Oct. 12; and on KUTV's Take 2, that show to be aired sometime the end of September.

"With five of Utah's major television stations committed to televising one or more of these debates, constituents from all corners of this state will have a great opportunity to watch and compare and contrast the candidates," Barney said.

Hatch asks that all "qualified" candidates for the U.S. Senate be allowed to debate, although that will be up to the individual debate sponsors.