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Grimes 'ready to discuss details' on McConnell debate challenge

by Joe Arnold


Posted on May 22, 2014 at 7:13 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 27 at 4:20 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- With the primary election behind them, the U.S. Senate campaigns of Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes kicked into general election mode on Wednesday.

Hours after Grimes launched a new television commercial espousing a post-partisan tone, McConnell seized the news cycle with a public challenge to the first term Secretary of State, a letter proposing a series of three "Lincoln-Douglas" debates.

In what political observors regard as an attempt to capitalize on what Republicans regard as Grimes' inexperience, McConnell called for the debates to begin relatively soon, with the first before July 4 and the last by Labor Day.  Debates are typically scheduled closer to election day, when voters tend to be paying more attention. 

In his letter to Grimes, McConnell set several other conditions, that the debates include just a single moderator who would serve as a timekeeper and that the debate be held with no audience, props or notes.

Several hours after the release of the letter, the Grimes campaign released a statement saying McConnell "should stop playing games."

Grimes' campaign manager Jonathan Hurst said McConnell was "behind Grimes" on debates because she had indicated to reporters earlier in the week that she "welcomed the opportunity to debate McConnell and our campaign stands ready to discuss details."

McConnell's campaign announced Wednesday that it had accepted an offer extended by WDRB-TV in Louisville to host the debates.  WDRB General Manager Bill Lamb made the on-air offer after McConnell's letter was released on Wednesday.

Months ago, WHAS11 had extended a debate invitation to both the Grimes and McConnell campaigns.

The developments on Wednesday are indicative of what promises to be a daily battle by the candidates to define the senate race and each other. 

"No matter who the president is, I won't answer to them," Grimes says in the one minute commercial released on Wednesday.

McConnell's victory speech on Tuesday night made the opposite claim, backed by signs reading 'Kentucky needs Mitch McConnell" and "Obama needs Alison Lundergan Grimes."

McConnell laughed at Grimes' other message, that she is unlike him and will not get caught up in partisan politics.

"I mean, let's be honest," McConnell said.  "Anybody who learns politics at the school of Jerry Lundergan will not be a model of bipartisanship."