The conservative campaign is a guarded and negative campaign. Stephen Harper only allows four or five questions per scrum and keeps the media well away from him behind a guarded perimeter. Their strategy is to hold their lead and little more. This essentially means it has no theme to attract new voters or to attract votes from other parties. The conservatives may have peaked in the first week and if the NDP vote does not collapse then that may be enough to give the conservatives another minority, or even majority government. If voters decide to choose between primarily the conservatives and the liberals then there is room for growth within the liberal party. At this point, anything is possible.
So, why would Stephen Harper challenge Michael Ignatieff to a one on one debate? This would only confirm the liberals are on even footing with the conservatives in this campaign. This is the worst blunder by the conservatives and the leader, Stephen Harper, made it. Now, he has decided to back away from his challenge to Michael Ignatieff and that only makes it worse. Stephen Harper has control over all the conservative candidates in this campaign. Maybe it is time for them to get control of him.