Saturday, August 30, 2014

Democratic consultant says Grimes should add debate

A Democratic political consultant says Alison Lundergan Grimes should accept a Sept. 5 debate with Sen. Mitch McConnell, while a Republican consultant says Grimes would be better off passing it up.

Consultant Bob Gunnell said on this morning's "The Powers That Be" on WHAS-TV that if he were Grimes, he would accept the debate proposed by the station.

Republican consultant Les Fugate said, "If I'm her I would like to avoid all debates with Senator McConnell," who knows the issues better and is skilled at exploiting any Grimes "hiccup."

The station offered the candidates several dates. McConnell picked Sept. 5, saying it was the only one on which he was available. Grimes rejected it, on grounds that she had a longstanding commitment to attending a reunion at her alma mater, Rhodes College in Memphis.

The show also includes a "quasi-debate" between McConnell and Grimes over his plans to attach policy riders to funding bills if he becomes Senate majority leader, using pieces of the interviews the candidates gave to CNN and MSNBC.

In other comments to WHAS's Joe Arnold, Gunnell said the Bluegrass Poll that will be released tonight at 8 EDT will be "the most important of her campaign" because McConnell has been gaining and if his lead increases, Grimes's national fundraising "basically comes to a halt unless she reverses it." UPDATE: Though the poll showed McConnell increasing his lead to 4 percentage points from 2 in late July, Grimes "still has very much a shot to win, and money will still continue to flow into her campaign," Gunnell told Arnold for his story on the poll.

The show was taped before the resignation of McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton, but includes a short report on the investigation that led to it, including Benton's statement to Arnold last year that he was unaware of any payments by Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign to the Iowa state senator who pleaded guilty Wednesday to concealing payments he received from the campaign before he switched his allegiance to Paul, shortly before the Iowa caucuses. Benton was Paul's political director.

In another interview on the show, Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth said Grimes "doesn't have to do any more attacking" of McConnell in her advertising, because the senator's job rating is so low and so many Kentuckians are disposed to vote against him. But he said she needs to show that she is "a viable, credible alternative they would prefer to Mitch," and he said Grimes's most recent ad does that.

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