Bevin challenges McConnell to debate before Republican primary - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Bevin challenges McConnell to debate before Republican primary

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Matt Bevin stands next to cardboard cutout of Sen. Mitch McConnell. Matt Bevin stands next to cardboard cutout of Sen. Mitch McConnell.
Mitch McConnell Mitch McConnell

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The man who is challenging Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in the Republican primary is now issuing another challenge.

Louisville businessman Matt Bevin is calling out McConnell for refusing to debate.

With the May 20 primary exactly two months away, Bevin is trying to use an old McConnell campaign tactic against him.

"Where's Mitch? Where's Mitch?" Bevin asked as he spoke to reporters at a news conference on Thursday.

It's a question Matt Bevin says Kentucky deserves to have answered.

Standing beside a cardboard cutout of McConnell, Bevin chided him for refusing to debate.

"I think he's unwilling and unable to defend his record. And I think he's afraid to debate," he said.

It's a tactic reminiscent of the one McConnell himself used 30 years ago when his famous hound-dog commercial helped defeat then-Sen. Dee Huddleston.

The ad shows a hunter led by a pack of hound dogs chasing a Huddleston look-a-like as the narrator says, "Dee runs and Dee hides, but we're going to catch him. It's time you faced your record!"

"It does harken back to that," said Bevin. "The irony is Dee Huddleston was much more accessible to his constituents, much more accessible to his constituents than Mitch McConnell has ever been."

In a statement, the McConnell campaign said Bevin has already lost one debate to McConnell's campaign manager, Jesse Benton.

That's a reference to an appearance at the University of Kentucky last year, when Bevin fumbled a question from Benton about Article 5 of the Constitution.

"How many of you have ever heard the term, 'plead the fifth?'" Bevin said at the time. 

"That's the Bill of Rights," interrupted Benton.

"Oh, the Bill of Rights, Article 5, I stand corrected," responded Bevin.

Bevin dismissed the McConnell campaign's response. 

"Is Mitch McConnell really that unable to defend his 30-year track record that he's going to use this kind of nonsense?" he said.

It's nonsense that Bevin says was also evident earlier this week when the McConnell campaign banned the editor of the left-leaning newspaper LEO Weekly from a press conference.

At the time, McConnell said he knew nothing about it. But Bevin is not buying it.

"It comes from a sense of arrogance and, frankly, I think increasingly, of desperation," said Bevin.

Bevin said if the election were held today he would beat McConnell.

The McConnell campaign responded by essentially calling him a liar, citing a recent poll which shows Bevin 40 points behind.

Bevin did pick up an endorsement on Thursday. The Louisville Tea Party is supporting him in the primary.

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