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VOL. 129 | NO. 127 | Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Lamar Alexander Shows Little Interest in Debates

ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press

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NASHVILLE (AP) – Lamar Alexander showed little interest Monday in taking up challenger Joe Carr's call for a debate in advance of the Republican Senate primary in August.

Alexander told reporters in a joint appearance with fellow Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky that with seven candidates running for the GOP nomination, it would be difficult to schedule them all to appear at once.

"The first question would be, could we schedule it?" Alexander said. "And the second would be if anyone would learn anything from a debate among seven people like that."

Early voting for the Aug. 7 primary begins July 18.

"The best thing for those of us who are seeking the Republican nomination is just to be available to the people of Tennessee and let them know our views," Alexander said.

Earlier Monday, Carr noted that in Paul's successful 2010 campaign against the GOP establishment candidate, the challenger spoken out for the importance of debates.

"I challenge Lamar Alexander to debate before any impartial group," Carr said in a release. "Tennesseans deserve a full and robust debate so they can make the most informed decision on who truly represents their best interests."

Alexander wouldn't say whether a debate would have to involve all seven candidates. Among the challengers, only Carr and Memphis radio station owner George Flinn have shown significant campaign spending.

"My goal is to let the people of Tennessee know my views exactly, and they can go to my website and find that out," said Alexander, who served two terms as Tennessee governor and is seeking a third term in the Senate. "Or usually I'm walking down the street and they can ask me."

Flinn, who has poured millions of his own money into previous unsuccessful congressional bids, has begun running cable television ads railing against "career politicians" and their "slick ad campaigns."

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Gordon Ball of Knoxville launched his first ad Monday. The Knoxville attorney has said he plans to spend up to $400,000 of his own money on the ad campaign before the primary.

In the ad, Ball touts what he calls his moderate Democratic leanings in a state that has titled heavily toward Republicans in the last decade.

"Whatever happened to the Democratic Party, the party of the people?" the ad's narrator asks. "Good question. That's why Gordon Ball is running for the Senate."

Other candidates for the Democratic nomination include Knoxville attorney Terry Adams, Larry Crim and Gary Gene Davis, both of Nashville.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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