Saying he respects the voters of Kentucky but not the "inappropriate attacks" of his Democratic rival, Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul confirmed Friday that he will participate in a televised debate Monday night with Democratic candidate Jack Conway.
Paul announced his decision about the debate on Kentucky Educational Television and said dozens of people over the last 18 months have brought "personally damaging information to us about my opponent and his family."
"We won't go there," Paul said he told his staff.
Paul did not release any further information about his statement and did not take questions from reporters. He did say he wanted to raise the debate "to a higher plane."
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Conway campaign spokesman John Collins said in an e-mail that "Jack will debate on Monday without any preconditions ..."
"Rand has spent the last week hemming and hawing, demanding restrictions on what he'll answer," Collins said. "Instead of having another tirade, Rand should show up and face the voters."
Paul, who said earlier in the week that he was not sure whether he would appear with Conway in their fifth and final debate, read a statement at the news conference about how disappointed he was that Conway has refused to apologize for a controversial TV ad that has garnered national and international media attention.
The ad deals with Paul's involvement in a secret group as a student in the 1980s at Baylor University known as the NoZe Brotherhood. The ad says the society mocked Christianity and alleged that Paul tied up a woman while in college and forced her to bow down to a god named "Aqua Buddha."
The ad, which has drawn a mixed reception from Democrats, was based on articles in GQ magazine, The Washington Post and Politico.com in recent weeks and months.
Paul has called the ad "all lies" and "completely untrue."
On Friday evening, Paul launched a second TV ad responding to Conway's claims. The ad shows a clip of Conway promising to "run a campaign that appeals to your hopes, not your fears."
"Jack Conway shattered that promise with an attack on Rand Paul's Christian faith," says an announcer. "It's been condemned across the nation."
Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton said the Paul campaign has raised more than $300,000 in the last three days "due to supporters' outrage" over the ad.
"It's good to see so many people agree that these sort of ugly attacks have no place in a political campaign where there are critical issues to be dealt with," Benton said.
In the remaining days before the election, Paul said he will continue to talk "about the main issues of the day," such as the deficit and health care.
Paul encouraged Conway "to do likewise, to aspire to statesmanship, to seek a higher plane for the betterment of our citizenry and cast aside the politics of personal destruction that diminish us all."
The hourlong KET debate will consist of questions from Kentucky Tonight host Bill Goodman and KET viewers. It is to air at 8 p.m. Monday.