McConnell challenges McGrath to 'socially distanced, Lincoln-Douglas style' debate

McConnell challenges McGrath to 'socially distanced, Lincoln-Douglas style' debate
© Bonnie Cash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse to act on debt ceiling next week White House warns GOP of serious consequences on debt ceiling Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday challenged his Democratic challenger, Amy McGrath, to a televised debate as the race heads into its home stretch.

McConnell — in a letter to McGrath, a former Marine combat pilot — proposed a "socially distanced, Lincoln-Douglas style debate" that would be televised statewide.

"This would be a debate just between the two of us. No notes at the table, no props, and no audience. Kentuckians deserve clear answers from each of us on the issues that matter most, and this is the best format to deliver those answers," McConnell wrote.


A spokesperson for McGrath's campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment about McConnell's letter.

The spread of the coronavirus has upended day-to-day life, including how campaigns operate. But McConnell, in his letter, argued that "any plans to hold in-person debates between the two of us should not be impacted."

McConnell, 78, is running for his seventh term in the Senate, where he's been the GOP leader since 2007 and the majority leader since 2015.

McConnell's role as a chief antagonist for Democrats makes him a top target in November. Nearly $5.57 million in outside money has already poured into the state, with roughly $4.59 million being spent against Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics

McConnell is viewed as the favorite to win and political handicappers rate the race as "likely" Republican.

But polling has indicated that the race could be tight. While a Morning Consult poll released in early August showed McConnell with a 17 percentage point lead, a Quinnipiac University Poll released days later had McConnell leading McGrath by 5 percentage points — 49 to 44 percent. 

McConnell won his 2014 race by 15.5 percentage points.