McConnell wastes no time, challenges Grimes to three "Lincoln-Douglas" style debates

05/21/2014 10:35 AM

UPDATED WITH GRIMES RESPONSE: Now that the race is set, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is challenging his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes to three “traditional Lincoln-Douglas debates.”

McConnell called for the debates to be “moderated only by a single timekeeper/moderator.

“By conducting these debates without an audience, without props, and without notes, it will allow for an unvarnished exchange of views for Kentuckians to evaluate,” McConnell wrote in the letter.

McConnell said that he would like the first debate to take place before the Fourth of July holiday.

“I believe that in order to present our views before Kentuckians are inundated with advertising, we should agree to hold the first of these three debates before the Fourth of July,” McConnell wrote.

The Lexington Herald-Leader was first to report the letter from McConnell Wednesday morning.

The second debate should happen before August, and the annual political picnic in Western Kentucky, McConnell said.

“The second debate should be held before Fancy Farm, and a third and final debate around Labor Day,” McConnell wrote.

Grimes’ campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Pure Politics. Later, Jonathan Hurst, Grimes’ campaign manager, issued a statement neither accepting nor turning down McConnell’s specific parameters. Instead, Hurst said the Grimes campaign is willing to “discuss details” of potential debates.

Here’s Hurst’s full statment:

“Once again Mitch McConnell is behind Alison Lundergan Grimes. Days ago, she welcomed the opportunity to debate McConnell and our campaign stands ready to discuss details. He will need all the time in the world to defend a 30-year record of looking out for himself and creating gridlock in Washington. This campaign is about two very distinct visions for Kentucky’s future: one puts forward bold ideas to put Kentuckians back to work, while the other does not believe it is his responsibility to bring jobs to the Commonwealth. What Kentuckians don’t need are gimmicks and games. If Mitch McConnell truly wants this campaign to be a healthy debate about issues between the candidates, we should also agree to keep outside organizations from flooding Kentucky airwaves with special interest money.”

And below is a full copy of the letter McConnell sent to Grimes:

Dear Secretary Grimes,
Congratulations on becoming the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. I know this campaign will be a spirited and respectful contest that will provide Kentuckians with an honest choice between two very different visions for the future.
In order to present our views fairly and without interpretation by traditional media filters, I believe we should participate in three traditional Lincoln-Douglas style debates moderated only by a single timekeeper/moderator. By conducting these debates without an audience, without props, and without notes, it will allow for an unvarnished exchange of views for Kentuckians to evaluate.
Last Sunday, The Lexington Herald-Leader suggested that May 21st would not be too early for us to find time to debate and I agree. I believe that in order to present our views before Kentuckians are inundated with advertising, we should agree to hold the first of these three debates before the Fourth of July. This will allow for our first real exchange of ideas a full calendar year after you announced your candidacy. The second debate should be held before Fancy Farm, and a third and final debate around Labor Day.
Kentucky voters will get their fill of campaign ads and scripted events this year but three Lincoln-Douglas style debates will provide an excellent format to evaluate our true views on the issues.
I look forward to hearing from you on this invitation.
Sincerely,

Mitch McConnell

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@charter.com.

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