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Hungry for debate, two California congressional hopefuls stop eating

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CNN anchor Kyra Phillips could barely maintain a straight face.

“A hunger strike? C’mon, is that really the way to go, sir?”

That’s the question she gave to Democratic congressional candidate Richard Lutz Thursday. Mr. Lutz stopped eating on Aug. 12 to bring attention to his California 52nd District opponent, incumbent Duncan D. Hunter, who won’t debate him until late October. Lutz says that is too late because 60 percent of people vote absentee, and those ballots go out in early October.

“It’s a very sad commentary when in a democracy you have to go on a hunger strike to get a debate with your opponent,” he told CNN. “If the media comes in here and says, 'Well this is just a publicity stunt,' that’s pretty absurd.”

But if this is a publicity stunt, it’s working, Hunter campaign spokesman Dave Gilliard says. “You’ve got to give [Lutz] credit for being able to draw attention to himself,” said Mr. Gilliard, noting the CNN appearance and this reporter's phone query. “But this is proving him to be a crackpot. He wants us to dance to his tune, but we’re not going to do that. We’re going to run a dignified campaign in a way the voters appreciate.”

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