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Allen West Is Ducking Debate, Says Republican Underdog

David Brady seems to be doing everything right in his campaign to win the Republican nomination in the 22nd Congressional District. It seems like Republican voters would want a moderate like Brady, who would seem to have a chance of winning swing voters in a general election against Democratic incumbent Ron Klein. Or at least a far better chance than an extreme conservative like Allen West, the other Republican candidate.

Brady has waged a tireless door-to-door campaign in the last few months. During his only debate with West, Brady appeared to be far more rational, more practical, more poised, and more polished. Last week he won a

major endorsement from the Palm Beach Post's editorial board, which seemed genuinely frightened by the military metaphors that West uses to illustrate his desire for change in Washington, D.C.

Yet Brady is the overwhelming underdog. Why?

Probably because he doesn't perform the kind of political body slams that will get him a berth on Fox News or make a Youtube video go viral. For a 36-year-old, Brady has embarked on a decidedly old-fashioned campaign, the centerpiece of which is simply knocking on doors and talking politics with people in his district.

"Basically people are fed up with the federal government's inability to function," says Brady. "I've found that people love blaming Obama -- and that other people love blaming Bush. But it's just as much Congress' fault, if not more."

He points out that Congress has oversight committees that could have prevented the Deepwater Horizon spill, for which the Obama administration has been blamed, and that similar congressional committees could have made corrections that would have saved the nation from a Wall Street meltdown liberals blame on Bush.

It's all very true, but in making this point to voters, Brady is complicating an issue that might have otherwise seemed simple. He's not telling them what they want to hear. And he comes up far short of the emotional appeals that voters hear from West, who famously claimed he would personally rip the gavel out of the hand of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

West's emotion-based message works best in a vacuum, however. "I do not believe it's in Allen West's interests to debate me," says Brady. Indeed, West has shied away from a debate even when the audience already supports him, like the one that listens to Joyce Kaufman's radio program. "Joyce said she was going to have us back for a second debate before the primary, but she hasn't been in touch with me."

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Thomas Francis

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