(CNN) –- Republican Scott Brown called on his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley Wednesday to agree to additional debates, as the two candidates for the late Edward Kennedy’s Senate seat prepared to campaign through the holidays in the run-up to next month’s special election.
“I understand that she has accepted some debates, but is dragging her feet on others,” Brown said at a news conference two days before Christmas. “Already, the League of Women Voters has cancelled a debate scheduled for Faneuil Hall because of her refusal to participate. Other debate sponsors have been unable to move forward with their plans because she has not responded to them.
“Let’s not limit the number of debates between us. There is too much at stake for our state and our nation.”
Brown and Coakley have squared off in two debates since both won their respective political party nominations earlier this month. But those debates also included third-party candidate Joseph Kennedy, who used “paid signature collectors” to help get his name on the general election ballot, The Boston Globe reported last week.
So far, Coakley has refused to participate in any debate that does not include Kennedy, a political unknown who is not related to the late senator. Earlier in the week, Brown accused Coakley of using Kennedy as a “buffer” to avoid directly debating him.
Coakley’s campaign did accept three more invitations Wednesday to debate Brown, but only at events that included the third-party candidate.
“We are looking forward to participating in these three debates in addition to the two debates that have already been held,” Kevin Conroy, Coakley’s campaign manager, said in a statement released by the campaign. “In these debates, it will continue to be clear that Martha Coakley is the only candidate who understands the significant challenges facing our Commonwealth and has concrete plans to create jobs, reduce health care costs, and protect against global warming.”
The Coakley campaign added in the statement that it was "still continuing to work to schedule two additional possible debates hosted by WCVB-TV as well as a consortium of the Boston Globe, NECN, WBUR, WGBH and others.”
CNN and WCVB TV 5 Boston have invited Brown and Coakley to participate in a live debate on Jan. 10, but Kennedy has not yet been asked because he has not met the criteria established by the two media organizations. Brown and Coakley have met the conditions to participate in the debate. Brown has accepted the invitation, but Coakley is insisting that Kennedy be included before she agrees to attend.
On Monday, Brown said that if voters have the opportunity to see him debate Coakley, then they “will see a stark contrast between what she believes and what I believe in.”
“She wants a buffer and she wants the ability to kind of drag this out and run down the calendar,” Brown said of Coakley’s insistence on having Kennedy participate in the debates. “But people are smarter than that.”
Coakley, though, brushed off Brown’s charge that she was using the third party candidate as a distraction.
"The voters go in on Jan. 19 to pick a new U.S. senator,” Coakley said. “There are three names on that ballot. It seems to me, and the candidates agree, that all three of the candidates should be able to put out their positions through media outlets and through other debates to people who are going to make that choice.”