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Paul vs. Grayson UofL debate up in the air

by Joe Arnold


Posted on December 15, 2009 at 1:15 AM

The U of L College Republicans appear to be trying to shame Sec. of State Trey Grayson to debate Dr. Rand Paul on campus early next year.
The college group has issued a news release that sounds as much like a challenge to Grayson than an invitation, "Though the Grayson campaign has yet to reply, (College Republican President Andrew) Carroll said that Grayson has come to UofL to speak on past occasions."
The U of L College Republicans news release included a quote from Paul and was e-mailed to the media on Friday, after the Paul campaign issued its own news release saying that Paul would participate in the U of L debate on any of the five dates suggested.
"I hope the Grayson campaign responds quickly," Paul said in his news release, "so we can get to work on this important event for Kentucky Republicans."
But Nate Hodson, Grayson's campaign manager indicated that the college group had not given Grayson's team much time to respond.
"We just received the invitation and we'll consider it,"  Hodson told me on Monday, "We look forward to debating Rand Paul many times before the primary."
With the U of L Republicans issuing a news release in apparently the same breath as issuing the invitation, it made me wonder if the students coordinated their news release with the Paul campaign.  
But, Carroll says he is an undecided voter who has both volunteered for Grayson's Secretary of State campaign, and attended a Rand Paul healthcare forum at a local high school.  Carroll says "each campaign was notified of the debate equally, and prior to the press release and official invitations being sent out."
And how was each campaign initially notified by the college students?  Interestingly, Carroll says "on October 23, I sent personal messages
on Facebook."
"(Paul campaign manager) David Adams called me back within ten minutes,"  Carroll said, but he says he never heard back from the Grayson camp until December 9, when Carroll says Grayson's new political director 
Jeremy Hughes "replied that he was not sure what debates Trey would be doing but he stated: 'I'll just be honest with you, the problem with doing them at colleges is then every college wants to do one, and you get nothing done in the campaign but doing debates that no one sees. But I can assure you there definitely will be a debate in Louisville.'"
Carroll says the Grayson campaign has yet to make any further correspondence with the UofL College Republicans.  He says the process was "entirely fair" and that "the UofL College Republicans news release is in no way, shape, or form an attempt to embarrass Secretary of State Grayson. Secretary Grayson has spoken at prior UofL College Republican events in past years, and has always been a friend to the UofL College Republicans. Personally, Secretary Grayson has always been kind to me, and I would never seek to embarrass him in anyway. This is why I was so surprised that the Grayson campaign indicated he would be unwilling to come to UofL for a debate. The press release was our way of expressing our excitement that Rand Paul, a frontrunner in the race for United States Senate, was willing to come to UofL for a debate."
Paul's campaign manager, David Adams, tells me that some of the U of L Republicans "caught hell" by Grayson's camp after they attended a Rand Paul town hall meeting.  Adams says the Paul campaign was not acting in concert with the group in planning the debate invitations.

"We were notified of the debate the same way the Grayson campaign was: first by telephone, then by mail," Adams said, "One of the students asked me last week on the telephone if Rand would debate on campus. I told him that Rand would be glad to participate. He then told me his contact with the Grayson campaign had suggested Grayson was not likely to agree to a debate."

As Grayson contemplates the invitation, his campaign manager offers a fiery preview of what a debate would sound like, "We look forward to hearing (Paul's) explanation of why he has advocated closing Gitmo and releasing terrorist detainees back into battle against American troops, along with many other of his inexplicable and irresponsible positions on issues,"  Hodson said.
Meanwhile, Paul's campaign manager is also not pulling any punches, "It's funny that the Grayson campaign is worried that the students support Rand. We shouldn't be a bit surprised to see the Grayson campaign's behavior playing a key role in making Rand Paul supporters out of many Republicans. Their cowardly tactics are making our case for us: Rand is the stronger candidate to take on the Democratic nominee next November," Adams said.
Here's the news release issued on Friday:
Grayson, Paul Invited to attend debate at University of Louisville
LOUISVILLE, KY – The University of Louisville College Republicans have invited the two leading candidates in the Republican primary for United States Senate to participate in a debate at the University of Louisville in early 2010. 
Invitations have been sent to the campaigns of Secretary of State Trey Grayson and Dr. Rand Paul with a list of potential dates in late January and February. The final date, time, and debate format will be agreed upon once both campaigns have accepted the invitation to the debate, to be held on the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus.
Dr. Rand Paul has formally accepted the invitation to the debate, saying, “I appreciate the Louisville College Republicans’ efforts and look forward to a serious discussion about how the Republican Party can effectively get our country off the big government merry-go-round.”
Andrew Carroll, Chairman of the group, said that he believed this was an important election, and that many Kentuckians, including students at the University of Louisville are eager to hear these two candidates talk about the issues not only important to all Kentuckians, but also to Kentucky college students. “I couldn’t think of a better place to have a debate on the issues than with the College Republicans,” said Carroll, “As college students, we are constantly encouraged to be engaged and involved by political candidates; we are now inviting them to come discuss what we believe to be the issues important to Kentuckians and to our country.”
Robert Works, a senior Political Science and Spanish major at UofL agreed: “Candidates are always eager to accept the help of College Republicans to go door-to-door and to make phone calls for them, I hope the candidates will be as eager to come debate the issues with us.”
Though the Grayson campaign has yet to reply, Carroll said that Grayson has come to UofL to speak on past occasions, and that he is optimistic that Grayson will participate. Suggested dates for the debate are January 21, 27, and February 4, 15, and 25 of 2010.