LITTLE ROCK Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Tom Cotton held a press conference Sunday to challenge incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor to a series of five unmoderated debates that would be held in different regions of Arkansas.
Cotton, who announced his challenge at the Arkansas Republican Party headquarters Sunday afternoon, said he proposed the unmoderated format so that the candidates could "talk directly to voters" instead of working through the filter of a moderator, journalist or panel asking questions.
“There used to be a time in our politics when voters could look the two candidates in the eye and hear from them directly – that’s what I’m inviting Sen. Pryor to participate in today,” Cotton said.
Cotton, a freshman Congressman from Arkansas' 4th District, said the format would mirror the Lincoln-Douglas debates, where Republican challenger Abraham Lincoln and Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party candidate debated each other for the 1858 election for the Illinois Senate seat. The format of the 1858 debates was that one candidate spoke for 60 minutes, followed by a 90-minute rebuttal from the other candidate and finally a 30-minute rejoinder from the first candidate.
Cotton said Sunday that he would be willing to negotiate the time of the responses and to allow for a timekeeper.
A spokesperson for Pryor's campaign said the Senator would be issuing a response to the request later today.