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Published July 16 2012

Berg agrees to 2 chances for Senate debates

FARGO – North Dakota Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Rick Berg said Monday that he’s agreed to two chances for debates against Democrat Heidi Heitkamp this fall.

Heitkamp challenged Berg in June to accept at least seven opportunities to debate before Election Day.

She's so far accepted six invitations to debate Berg, but the pair has only agreed two events.

In a meeting with The Forum Editorial Board on Monday, Berg confirmed that he accepted two invitations, but he wouldn’t specify how many total debates he’d like to have against Heitkamp before Nov. 6. “I’ll leave that up to the campaigns to figure out,” Berg said, referring to scheduling. “Whatever fits in and works.”

Berg said Monday “this campaign is a clear choice” between himself and Heitkamp, and he agreed with The Forum’s editorial board that debates could help define that choice.

So far, Berg and Heitkamp have agreed to a televised debate with Prairie Public Broadcasting that will be taped in early October and a debate sponsored by the North Dakota Broadcasters Association on Sept. 5 in Bismarck.

Forsythe said Heitkamp has accepted four other invitations, though – from the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, the Lignite Energy Council and Fargo-based KFGO radio.

Heitkamp’s brother, Joel, is a talk-show host on KFGO and Heitkamp herself has been featured as an occasional on-air personality for the station.

Forsythe said Heitkamp is also finalizing dates for other opportunities to debate her opponent.

For instance, she plans to challenge Berg to a debate on the 2012 farm bill, which Heitkamp believes is “the biggest issue for North Dakota right now,” Forsythe added.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541