The much-anticipated first debate between Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and his three challengers was called off following the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy and rescheduled for next week, according to debate sponsor WBZ-TV.
The debate, moderated by WBZ political analyst Jon Keller, will now air live on the station from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 2. It will also be carried live on wbztv.com and WBZ Newsradio 1030, and rebroadcast at 8 p.m. Sept. 4.
"In light of the death of Senator Kennedy and the public outpouring, WBZ-TV and the candidates agreed it was appropriate to postpone until next Wednesday," station spokeswoman Ro Dooley Webster said.
Menino and the three other candidates -- city councilors Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon, and South End businessman Kevin McCrea -- all praised Kennedy and the mark he has left on their lives and careers. The mayor called him a "close friend," saying, "I will miss his friendship and his guidance."
Yoon announced he would suspend all campaigning in honor of the senator's death. "His voice will forever echo in our minds and hearts," the councilor said in a statement.
Flaherty encouraged the public to take the time before next week's debate to "remember this great man and everything that he did to make our country the great place that it is today."
McCrea planned to spend a quiet evening with his family. He said his mother and sister had both met the senator and have enormous respect for his legacy.
"I'm sure Senator Kennedy himself would want democracy and debate to continue and I look forward to that next Wednesday," McCrea said.
The four candidates are scheduled to debate a second time on Sept. 10 on WFXT (Fox 25). The two top vote-getters in the preliminary election on Sept. 22 will then go head to head in an Oct. 19 debate sponsored by the Globe, New England Cable News, WGBH-TV (Channel 2), and WBUR (90.9 FM).
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