The Huffington Post is reporting that McConnell has issued a challenge to Allison Lundergan Grimes for three Lincoln-Douglas style debates. However, McConnell has imposed certain conditions for said debates:
“In order to present our views fairly and without interpretation by traditional media filters, I believe we should participate in three traditional Lincoln-Douglas style debates moderated only by a single timekeeper/moderator,” McConnell's letter read, according to the paper. “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.”If I remember my history, while it is true there were no journalists acting as moderators of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, reporters were present to cover the debates. And it is certainly true that modern debates are not debates. They are joint press conferences by each candidate with the journalist moderators sucking up to the candidates. However, journalist moderators, on occasion, have remembered that they are supposed to be moderators and call out candidates on obvious falsehoods. The most recent example being Candy Crowley during the Obama-Romney debate about that great Benghazi scandal.
Republicans and the Romney campaign are still fuming about that episode. So McConnell doesn't want anything like that to occur while he is speaking, especially if the moderator journalist was Joe Sonka. It is obvious then that McConnell wants to use his time to attack Grimes and link her to Obama. Grimes will then be forced to spend all her time refuting McConnell's charges, or so McConnell hopes.
The next flaw I see with this McConnell ploy on debates is that the Lincoln-Douglas debates were done in front of audiences, and crowds for both sides appeared to see and cheer their candidates on. Besides, there was no television or radio at the time, so besides newspapers, going to a public debate was one of the few times to get political information on the candidates.
But I think that McConnell is afraid that he won't draw enough supporters to a publicly televised debate. If Grimes were to draw more ardent supporters to a publicly televised event, it would make for good TV for her and not for McConnell. Besides, there is also the possibility that a publicly televised debate will draw some of the elements that made the Republican presidential debates in 2012 so outrageous. Remember the time someone in the audience yelled to let the uninsured die if they had a motorcycle accident?
So if I was Grimes, I'd send back a list of my own conditions to McConnell's request. I strongly suspect that any conditions that Grimes makes will be rejected, and McConnell will use it as an excuse to not hold any debates, which I believe is McConnell's real intention. McConnell has not had to debate anyone as far as I can remember, and I'm betting if he is not given a platform to filibuster from, he sucks at give and take.