Merkel’s would-be heir seeks rebound after election debate

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel’s struggling would-be heir has hit back at suggestions that a center-left rival is better qualified for the job after a televised debate failed to give him a clear breakthrough. Armin Laschet, the chancellor candidate from Merkel’s center-right Union bloc, insisted that he was “not at all” frustrated by a poll following Sunday night’s debate. It showed most viewers picking center-left Social Democrat Olaf Scholz as the winner of the event — followed by environmentalist Green contender Annalena Baerbock and then Laschet. The mass-circulation Bild daily’s front page proclaimed it a “clear victory for Scholz on TV” and a “debate debacle for Laschet.” The race for the Sept. 26 parliamentary election is too close to call.