In an apparent trend marking the 2022 midterm elections cycle, yet another Republican candidate decided to upend political tradition as it pertains to participating in a formal debate.
This time around, the culprit was incumbent Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who on Monday night skipped out entirely on his scheduled debate against Democratic nominee Charles Booker and offered no real explanation for his absence.
Booker was present and ready to debate Paul to no avail, as evidenced by a photo the Democrat tweeted showing only himself standing in a television studio where the debate was supposed to take place. Paul was afraid to engage in an in-person war of words centered on the issues facing Kentucky, Booker concluded.
“Rand Paul and I are supposed to debate tonight,” Booker tweeted Monday night. “They even had a cup of water ready for him.”
Then Booker had his mic drop Twitter moment with one word directed at Paul: “Coward.”
In the hours before the debate was scheduled, Paul tweeted a video that took a page straight out of the Republican fear-mongering book and was described as “racism” by Booker.
“Civil debate is an admired quality in a Republic but justifying, mocking, or celebrating violence, as documented in this video of Charles Booker and his allies, should be rejected,” Paul tweeted along with footage accusing his opponent of inciting political violence against the Republican senator.
Booker used the on-air time allotted for the debate to tell Kentucky residents that Paul “stokes racism and division” with such attacks, according to local news outlet WFPL.
“He’s really blowing the dog whistle,” Booker said Monday night. “Rand Paul wants people to look at the color of my skin instead of my record. That’s why he keeps using those words over and over again.”
On Tuesday, Booker said he found out why Paul didn’t want to debate him.
“We just found out that Rand skipped our debate tonight so he could attend a fundraiser with his big money friends,” Booker tweeted. “Unlike Rand, I showed up tonight and will show up everyday for Kentucky when elected.”
Booker launched his Senate campaign last summer and went on to snag the Democratic nomination this past May.
He shook up the establishment in 2020 after running a successful primary campaign for Senate, closing the gap against his Democratic opponent Amy McGrath and surpassing Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell in campaign donations. Booker’s campaign exemplified an important moment in Kentucky’s political history after a particularly disappointing upset where he lost to McConnell in the general election.
Booker said he believes he will persevere regardless of the shared notion that a centrist Democrat candidate is the only individual who could gain traction in Kentucky.
“I know for a fact that we will blow out Rand Paul,” he said when announcing his 2022 candidacy. “The path to victory really goes to the heart of us redefining our politics.”
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