Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday challenged his Democratic competitor, Amy McGrath, to a "socially distanced, Lincoln-Douglas style debate" with "no notes at the table, no props and no audience."

Why it matters: McConnell has held a steady lead over McGrath in most polling for the race, adding a layer of intrigue over his request.

  • McConnell is a fundraising giant, and most prognosticators believe he'll hold onto his seat in November.
  • Cook Political Report rates the race as "likely Republican," and the latest Quinnipiac poll showed McConnell ahead by 5 points.

What he's saying: McConnell argued, "While the coronavirus campaign has changed how we campaign in 2020, it is my view that any plans to hold in-person debates between the two of us should not be impacted."

  • "Before casting their ballots this November, Kentuckians deserve the opportunity to compare us side-by-side as we share our competing visions for Kentucky's long-term prosperity."

The big picture: Debates without an audience look set to be the norm amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders did a trial run of this method in March with a head-to-head debate in a television studio near the tail end of their Democratic primary battle.

Go deeper

Sep 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

McConnell: Senate has "more than sufficient time" to process Supreme Court nomination

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a floor speech Monday that the chamber has "more than sufficient time" to confirm a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the election, and accused Democrats of preparing "an even more appalling sequel" to the fight over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Why it matters: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said "nothing is off the table next year" if Republicans push ahead with the confirmation vote before November, vowing alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to use "every procedural tool available to us to ensure that we buy ourselves the time necessary."

Sen. Cory Gardner on vacant Supreme Court seat: "I will vote to confirm"

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) will vote to confirm President Trump's nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, he announced in a statement Monday.

Why it matters: The development is a win for President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). It should mean Republicans are all but assured to have enough support to hold hearings for Trump's potential nominee.

Updated 23 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Where key GOP senators stand on replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talks to reporters on Capitol Hill last Thursday. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

With President Trump planning to nominate his third Supreme Court justice nominee this week, key Republican senators are indicating their stance on replacing the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with less than 50 days until Election Day.

Driving the news: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), one of the few Republican senators thought to be a potential swing vote, said Tuesday that he would support moving forward with the confirmation process before the election.

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