Mitt Romney has declined an invitation to engage Newt Gingrich in a Lincoln–Douglas-style debate. The former speaker is used to rejection: He’s been proposing the idea for decades.
His model is the series of debates between Democratic senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois and his challenger, Republican Abraham Lincoln, in 1858. Although the state legislature picked the victor, Lincoln and Douglas held the debates in public to influence state elections. The topic, in each debate, was slavery. And each contest lasted three hours: The first candidate spoke for 60 minutes, the second gave a 90-minute rebuttal, and the first closed with a 30-minute reply.
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