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August 30, 2014

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Rory Reid draws Brian Sandoval into short debate

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Leila Navidi

Gubernatorial candidates Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval greet each other during the Nevada Subcontractors Association’s annual luncheon at the Eastside Cannery Casino in Las Vegas Wednesday, August 11, 2010.

Rory Reid vs. Brian Sandoval

Gubernatorial candidates Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval engage in an impromptu debate during the Nevada Subcontractors Association's annual luncheon at the Eastside Cannery Casino in Las Vegas Wednesday, August 11, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Sun Coverage

Gubernatorial candidates Rory Reid and Brian Sandoval held their first debate today -- an unexpected one -- after Reid challenged Sandoval to hash out the issues during the candidates' first appearance together.

Reid, a Democrat, and Sandoval, a Republican, were scheduled to give separate keynote speeches to members of the Nevada Subcontractors Association during a luncheon at the Eastside Cannery Hotel. Planners made the format of the event clear before it started: No questions. No debate.

Reid had a different plan.

The Clark County commissioner, who won the chance to speak first in a card draw, jumped on stage, greeted the crowd of about 200 and immediately challenged a stunned Sandoval to a debate. The candidates have a debate scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 29, but Reid didn’t want to wait.

“I was wondering if maybe you’d want to have a dress rehearsal?” Reid asked Sandoval from the podium.

Sandoval sat at a table, slowly shaking his head, lips pursed.

“No?” Reid goaded.

“I said yes,” Sandoval replied, standing to join Reid on stage.

“Frankly, I’m surprised you said yes,” Reid said.

“I’m surprised you asked,” Sandoval replied.

It was the first debate between the two since they became the chosen candidates of their parties. Reid, who frequently notes that he has agreed to 12 previous debates, accused Sandoval of running away from public discussions of issues, but Sandoval denied it. He said the men have four more debates planned.

The back-and-forth lasted about 15 minutes. Nervous organizers ended the debate soon after it began and directed each candidate to give the speech he had prepared. Both talked about the need for strong leadership, their ideas for improving schools and their plans for economic development.

“It was a great opportunity,” Sandoval said afterward. “I enjoyed that.”

Reid beamed, happy that his plan worked.

“I thought Brian was hiding,” Reid said. “I thought the people of Nevada deserved a debate. They have a right to know how we differ.”

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