Perry accepts debate invitation

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Gov. Rick Perry has accepted invitations to participate in the first two debates for next year's Republican gubernatorial nomination.

Perry's seeking an unprecedented third term as Texas governor against a likely primary challenge from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

He accepted the invitation Tuesday and challenged Hutchison to join him in the debate.

Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner says the governor invites Hutchison to, in his words, "dispel concerns that her sixteen years in Washington have left her out of touch with the issues facing everyday Texans."

Hutchison campaign spokesman Jeff Sedosky wouldn't commit to the debate but said Hutchison "looks forward to debating the issues with Rick Perry and plans to do so repeatedly over the next seven months."

In a brief statement, Sedosky attacked Perry's record on issues such as border security and federal stimulus spending.