Conway campaign challenges Paul to series of debates

Paul camp does not immediately accept

bestep@herald-leader.comSeptember 10, 2010 

The debate over debates continues in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race.

On Thursday, Democrat Jack Conway's campaign challenged Republican Rand Paul to a series of six debates around the state during October.

Conway's news release included proposed dates and listed sponsors that the campaign said had agreed to host debates in Louisville, Covington, Pikeville, Paducah and Lexington.

Conway also would agree to a sixth debate in Paul's home of Bowling Green on any date they could work out, the release said.

It remains to be seen how the effort to schedule debates will pan out.

In July, Paul challenged Conway to a series of debates, including one on Fox News, where Paul has been a frequent guest.

A spokeswoman for Conway said at the time he would be happy to debate Paul. An apparent sticking point developed, however.

In mid-August, Conway said he would debate Paul on Fox if Paul agreed to a debate on the long-running NBC show Meet the Press — a show on which Paul canceled an appearance in May.

John Collins, spokesman for Conway, said Thursday that the Fox debate, if it happens, would be at a Louisville affiliate on Oct. 3.

But Paul has not committed to the Meet the Press debate, Collins said.

The Paul campaign has not responded at times to the Conway campaign's efforts to work out a debate schedule, Collins said.

Conway said in a statement that Paul was continuing his "disturbing pattern of not facing Kentucky voters."

However, Paul's spokesman, Gary Howard, issued a statement saying Conway has been the obstacle since Paul called for debates in late July.

"After ducking and sandbagging for nearly two months, Conway finds himself down 15 points in the polls and is finally interested in debating," Howard said.

Two recent polls showed Paul, an eye doctor, leading Conway, the state's attorney general, by 15 percentage points. However, Conway's camp disputed the accuracy of those polls. Other recent polls have shown the race closer; one had it tied.

Howard did not say Paul was accepting Conway's list of debate locations and dates.

However, Collins said he's gotten indications from sponsors that Paul has committed to two of the debates included in the proposal — Oct. 11 in Northern Kentucky and Oct. 25 on Kentucky Educational Television.

Paul's July challenge to Conway included unspecified dates on KET and in Northern Kentucky.

The list from both campaigns also included a debate in Paducah on Oct. 14.

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