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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

McConnell defends Trump's refusal to concede to Biden

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) celebrated Republicans' congressional victories and defended President Trump's refusal to concede to Joe Biden, saying on the Senate floor Monday that Trump has "every right to look into allegations and request recounts."

The state of play: As of Monday afternoon, only four Republican senators — Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) — had congratulated Biden on his projected victory.

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Assassination in Iran sets stage for tense final 50 days of Trump

The funeral ceremony in Tehran. Photo: Iranian Defense Ministry via Getty

Iranian leaders are weighing their response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, known as the father of Iran’s military nuclear program, who was given a state funeral Monday in Tehran.

The big picture: Iran has accused Israel of carrying out Friday’s attack, but senior leaders have suggested that they’ll choose patience over an immediate escalation that could play into the hands of the Israelis and the outgoing Trump administration.

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