U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, fresh off his primary win against challenger Matt Bevin, is challenging Democratic nominee Alison Lundergan Grimes to three debates.
In a letter signed by McConnell, which the Herald-Leader obtained Wednesday morning and the McConnell campaign confirmed would be sent to Grimes, Kentucky’s senior senator congratulated his Democratic opponent on winning her party’s nomination and challenged her to a series of debates.
“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,” McConnell wrote. “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.”
Referencing a recent edition of the Herald-Leader, McConnell wrote that the newspaper’s editorial board suggested that “May 21 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,” McConnell wrote. “This will allow for our first real exchange of ideas a full calendar year after you announced your candidacy.”
McConnell suggested a second debate before the annual Fancy Farm political picnic in early August and a third around Labor Day.
Grimes appeared willing, if not eager, to debate McConnell during an interview Monday on her campaign bus.
“When it comes to debating, it probably will be Mitch McConnell that will be the ‘empty dress’ and won’t show up on the other side,” she said.
Grimes, referencing a remark made about her by a National Republican Senatorial Committee staffer last year, kicked off the general election in her own way Wednesday, releasing a new ad.
The ad, entitled “A Moment,” features Grimes talking directly to voters. She hints at her campaign’s message strategy of painting McConnell as “Senator Gridlock,” along with the defense she will need to play to keep from being tied to President Barack Obama’s unpopularity.
“I’m running because I believe we need a senator who puts partisanship aside … and works with both Democrats and Republicans to do what’s right for Kentucky and for our country,” Grimes said. “And no matter who the president is, I won’t answer to them. I’ll only answer to you.”