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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Young: Surgery had setback, therapy planned instead of debate



U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young acknowledged to Bay Buzz on Tuesday he had a setback after back surgery this summer, increasing his rehab time and leaving him out of public eye. It's an absence that Justice has ripped for not allowing debates (UPDATE: his latest retort is on the jump).

Young, R-Indian Shores, and spokesman Harry Glenn also said they have not promised to attend a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club debate with his election opponent, state Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg.

"I think we already have a schedule of therapy on the 12th. I have a very good meeting with Tiger Bay this year," Young said, referring to a January appearance before he announced he would run again.

Some other highlights from the phone interview with the 20-term Young, 79, on Tuesday afternoon:

-- "After the surgery-- I had minor surgery -- I fell. Let me put it this way, I was dropped. That created some additional physical problems," Young said, noting he scheduled his surgery in July when Congress was out. "There’s nothing going on in the House or the Senate, so I’m getting by pretty free here."

He did miss a recent vote on a small business bill -- he wasn't the only one -- and he downplayed it as a party line vote. He said he is able to walk with a cane, and has made arrangements to use his political campaign money to pay for a charter flight if he's needed on an important vote "within 24 hours."

"The truth is they would like me to stay here in Florida as long as I can. ... I will stay here until I have to be back there. If I had to go back tomorrow, I could go back."

-- He's doing therapy on his muscles and also participating in occupational therapy. He spent two weeks at a HealthSouth facility in Largo, but communicated by phone with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Advisor Jim Jones and others.

"I had to learn how to do things all over again. ... Like how to give myself a shower," Young said.

His next step in therapy will be in a pool or the Gulf.

-- Justice shouldn't anticipate debating Young anytime soon, although Young said he does anticipate speaking with the Times editorial board in the next week or two. But Young said he won't respond to Justice's "negative attacks."

"He should run his campaign. I’ll run my campaign. And we’ll count the votes on election day," Young said.

And this this from the Justice camp:

 Charlie Justice Responds to Bill Young Backing Out of Debate
“It is disappointing to hear that Mr. Young won’t make the time to come to a Tiger Bay appearance that was scheduled for October 12th.
I want to let him know that I am available to meet him if we can find another time or location to have a healthy discussion of the important issues of the day.
I wish him well in his prolonged recovery from his summer medical procedure. Since he is well enough and can find time to meet with the power brokers and the newspaper editors, I would hope that he would show that the people of this district matter enough to come before them in person and ask for their vote.
While Tiger Bay is the place for political debates, I would be happy to come to him. Perhaps the club room at his beach condo would make space for us. We can make it as feasible for him as possible.
The truth is that from the beginning he has said he didn’t think there was anything to debate this year. The people I talk to every day who are worried about jobs, improving education, protecting Social Security, closing the Medicare donut hole, or have had their businesses negatively impacted by the oil spill see plenty to discuss and debate. This position that he takes shows that he is more and more out of touch every day including how the Times described him as downplaying missing the vote on an important jobs bill in Washington.
Bottom line, I am willing to make arrangements necessary to have a public discussion. He would rather remain as he usually does – silent on the issues. And the silence has become deafening.”

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 2:12pm]


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