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Mitch McConnell ‘refusing to debate his election rival if there is a female moderator’

McConnell’s spokesman denied that it was anything to do with gender

Madeline Roth
Wednesday 30 September 2020 00:35 BST
Mitch McConnell ‘refusing to debate his election rival if there is a female moderator’
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Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and his challenger in the Kentucky Senate race, Amy McGrath, are sparring over upcoming debates.

It all started when Mr McConnell sent a press release from "Team Mitch" accusing his opponent of potentially backing out of a debate in October. But according to subsequent claims from Ms McGrath's campaign, the real issue is the senator’s refusal to participate in an event with a female moderator.

In a press release issued Monday, Ms McGrath's campaign alleged that "Amy is ready and willing to debate Mitch, but Mitch is afraid to take the stage unless he dictates every detail."

The release added: "Mitch McConnell has not participated in a debate in Kentucky where the candidates took questions from a female moderator in nearly 25 years, and he continues to resist allowing women to host debates."

The campaign promised that Ms McGrath would participate in upcoming debates only when "the gender balance of the moderators is restored."

But Mitch McConnell’s campaign spokesperson, Kate Cooksey, said: “After spending two months attempting to add another man to the debate stage, Amy McGrath absurdly suggests gender discrimination by UK and Gray TV as the primary reason she can’t appear.

"The reality is that Team Mitch received an invitation, accepted it, and stands ready to debate on October 12. We sincerely hope Amy McGrath finds a reason to accept the debate rather than an evolving grab bag of laughably ridiculous excuses why she cannot.”

According to the Lexington Herald-Ledger, the debate in question is being hosted by Gray TV and moderated by Kentucky broadcaster Bill Bryant. Both Mr McConnell and Ms McGrath had previously agreed to participate in the debate, but the initial letter sent to both campaigns mentioned an additional female moderator, news anchor Shannon Cogan. By the time a second letter inviting both campaigns to the debate was sent out on September 16, only Mr Bryant was moderating. The Gray TV debate is slated for October 12.

According to a Data for Progress poll released last week, Mr McConnell is leading Ms McGrath in the Kentucky senate race. The poll showed 48 per cent support for the incumbent, and 41 per cent support for his opponent.

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