McConnell invites Grimes to Lincoln-Douglas debates
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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Finance: Lawmakers scramble to avoid shutdown | Why some Republicans worry about Trump's tax plan | Trade tensions with Canada Hundreds of former EPA employees blast Trump on climate change Democrats must have a better response on net neutrality than simply 'no' MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday invited his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes to participate in a series of debates this summer.

In a letter, McConnell invited Grimes to three Lincoln-Douglas style debates that will have one moderator and no audience. The first, he said, would be held on July 4.

The Lincoln-Douglas format is modeled after debates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas held during their Senate campaigns in 1858 in which they discussed the morals and values behind slavery. 

“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. 

McConnell congratulated Grimes on her primary win on Tuesday, which also saw the incumbent crushing his GOP primary opponent Matt Bevin.

Despite being a five-term incumbent, McConnell will face a tough general election challenge from Grimes who has been neck and neck with him in recent polls after his approval ratings have sunk. 

McConnell said he knows the general election campaign will be a “spirited and respectful contest.”

The second debate should be held before Kentucky’s major picnic event at Fancy Farm in August, and the third around Labor Day, he wrote to Grimes.

“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.”