Cancellation or confusion, Rosendale backs out of Whitefish debate with Tester

Matt Rosendale

Montana Senate candidate Matt Rosendale on Monday canceled his appearance at a scheduled debate in Whitefish with incumbent Sen. Jon Tester this weekend, saying he’d made plans for Father’s Day.

It a Tweet on Monday, Rosendale said he’d committed to two debates and challenged Tester to five in all. His campaign said he never committed to the broadcaster’s debate in Whitefish, though NBC Montana aired audio clips Monday evening suggesting Rosendale had stated otherwise.

“You’ll see me in Whitefish,” Rosendale told the station.

Rosendale, fresh of his GOP primary win, currently serves as state auditor and insurance commissioner.

The debate, organized and hosted by the Montana Broadcaster’s Association, planned to air the event statewide on Sunday morning from its annual convention.

Tester’s campaign spokesman Chris Meagher called Rosendale’s cancellation “disappointing.”

“After agreeing to Sunday’s debate in Whitefish, Matt Rosendale has decided at the last minute to bail, and duck Montana voters,” Meagher said. “Whatever the excuse is, it’s disappointing. This debate is a Montana tradition, but of course Montana traditions mean nothing to Maryland Matt.”