The Richmond Register

Local News

June 5, 2014

McConnell, Grimes haggle over debate terms

FRANKFORT —

Two weeks after incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell challenged his Democratic opponent to a series of debates under a format he proposed, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes sent McConnell a letter Thursday agreeing to debate, but not under his conditions.
Both candidates previously said they want to debate, but since the primary election, they’ve jousted over how, where and under what rules.
McConnell first suggested the two engage in three “Lincoln-Douglas-style” debates with no audience, no reporters, and no moderator except someone to keep time. He wants all three to be conducted by Labor Day.
Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas famously debated head-to-head for hours at a time during the 1858 Illinois U.S. Senate campaign, which Douglas won, only to see Lincoln come back two years later and win the presidency. The debates, along with another speech Lincoln gave in New York, are credited with making him a national figure.
Within days of McConnell’s suggestion, WDRB Television in Louisville offered to host such a debate on June 21. WDRB General Manager Bill Lamb said he would make it available to other television outlets in Kentucky.
Lamb also endorsed McConnell earlier this year and that led to concern from some in the Grimes camp, but it wasn’t clear from her Thursday letter if Grimes is rejecting that specific offer.
Instead, Grimes said she is “hopeful that we can agree to a series of debates. However, there are a few criteria for these debates where we disagree.”
Grimes also said she has accepted the invitation by Kentucky Education Television to participate in a statewide, televised appearance on KET’s Kentucky Tonight and suggested multiple debates “in different regions of the Commonwealth.” She also wants some debates to occur closer to the election.
Grimes writes that there should be live audiences at the debates and questions from the public, and she goes on to say she hopes the two campaign managers can “connect as soon as possible so that our campaigns can work through these details and agree to a debate schedule that works for the people of Kentucky.”

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