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      Haley, Ervin, Sheheen accept debate offer from ABC News 4, Post and Courier

      NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Gov. Nikki Haley, Sen. Vincent Sheheen, and independent Republican candidate for governor Tom Ervin accepted an offer from ABC News 4, The Post and Courier, WPDE, WACH, and WLOS to appear at a pair of gubernatorial debates.

      Ervin's camp issued the first acceptance Thursday. Ervin's campaign adviser Matt David said in a release Thursday Ervin was accepting the offer to appear because the voters of the state should hear each candidate's vision for the state.

      Haley verbally committed to the debates. Her office released a comment Thursday evening.{}

      "Governor Haley looks forward to debating her opponents, and comparing her vision of a growing and prosperous South Carolina with low taxes and more jobs, with her opponents' vision of a South Carolina with higher taxes, government health care, and an economic environment that would harm our businesses and workers," said Haley for Governor Deputy Campaign Manager Rob Godfrey.

      Sen. Vincent Sheheen also accepted the invitation in part Thursday night.{}

      His spokesman said Sheheen was happy to join the debates, but said the Greenville date conflicts with a previous debate being planned by the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce and several local television affiliates.

      "We look forward to debates in every corner of the state and will work with all parties to ensure all South Carolinians have a chance to hear their candidates for governor debate," said spokesman Andrew Whalen.

      Libertarian Steve French, and United Citizens Party candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves have been invited to participate but have not confirmed they will join the debates.

      Ervin is trailing Haley and Sen. Vincent Sheheen in the polls. A recent ABC News 4/Post and Courier poll shows Ervin with 3 percent of the vote.

      "We fully anticipate that each candidate will follow Tom's lead and accept this invitation because rejecting this opportunity would deny voters this fundamental component of the democratic process and send the message that they have something to hide. Tom looks forward to discussing his common sense vision to repair our crumbling roads, provide every child a world class education, and implement tough ethics reform to clean-up Columbia," David said.

      The first debate will be held in the Charleston area on Oct. 14 and focus on jobs, economy, and state growth. The second debate will be held a week later in the Greenville area and focus on education and health care.

      The Post and Courier and ABC News 4 are partnering with WACH in Columbia, WPDE in Myrtle Beach, and WLOS in Greenville to reach most of the state's voters through broadcast and print.

      Both of the debates will be streamed live on ABCNews4.com.

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