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      Ravenel challenges other Senate candidates to 11 debates

      EDISTO, S.C. (WCIV) - U.S. Senate candidate Thomas Ravenel on Sunday issued a debate challenge to his three fellow candidates.

      The former state treasurer and current businessman called for debates in Anderson, Beaufort, Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Greenville, Myrtle Beach, North Augusta, Rock Hill, Spartanburg, and Sumter.

      "All four of us owe the people of this state a serious conversation so they can decide for themselves who would best represent them," Ravenel said. "The next 100 days provide us with a real opportunity to have that discussion - which is why I think we should have no fewer than 10 different televised debates all across the state so that people in every corner of South Carolina can be part of the conversation."

      Ravenel said he wanted each other the 11 debates to be televised and allow for audience members to ask the candidates questions.

      "Let's have a moderator to keep the show rolling, but I believe the people should do the vast majority of the questioning," Ravenel said. "They're the ones we are ultimately answerable to - and they are the ones whose voices deserve to be heard."

      Ravenel said he knew people had questions about his candidacy as well as questions for current Sen. Lindsey Graham on his voting record. He said he expected fellow challengers Brad Hutto and Victor Kocher to accept the debate offer.

      But he thought Graham would only accept after what he described as "major arm-twisting," adding he thought Graham was afraid to face South Carolina residents.

      "If Lindsey Graham has time to meet with Barack Obama nineteen times - if he has time for all the special interests and all the talking heads in Washington, D.C. - then he should have time for the people he's supposed to be representing as well," Ravenel said.

      According to a recent ABC News 4/Post and Courier poll, Ravenel, Kocher, and Hutto are lagging behind Graham. The poll shows 45 percent of South Carolina voters would vote for Graham over his three challengers.

      Hutto pulled in one-third of the vote and Ravenel pulled in 10 percent, the poll data shows.

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