First and Only Gray-Paul Senate Debate Gets Heated

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LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ)-Almost a week to go until we go to the polls. Monday night U.S. Senate candidates Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and incumbent Senator Rand Paul took part in their only debate before election day. Paul has declined to debate Gray until now.

Both candidates’ supporters took over the front of KET with yard signs during a pre-debate rally. Then in came Rand Paul supporters, marching to the station’s front entrance. Both groups screamed back and forth to each other with chants like “Jim Gray all the way” and “R-a-n-d Rand Rand Rand”.

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There was also one smaller group that did not chant either candidate’s name. That group of young voters said they want to hear the candidates address environmental issues.

“It’s not that we don’t support either one,  it’s that we want to push both of them to actually discuss these issues so we don’t feel like we’re settling for a leader that doesn’t represent the young demographic,” said Marriah Harrod with the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition.

“The mayor has done a wonderful job here in Lexington and to take that approach  where you bring people together, you workshop ideas, and you do what’s best for the community would be very beneficial for Washington,” Clint Morris, a Gray supporter said.

“He makes a point every day when he’s in Congress to support our values in Kentucky,” Mackenzie Portwood, the UK Students for Rand chapter President, said about Rand Paul.

In the debate, Paul and Gray both mentioned economic issues as their top priorities. Then a talk about national security brought up a back and forth over who is more committed to serving Kentucky.

“He’s not even agreed that he’ll serve a full term. I made a pledge I would serve a full term and I’ll ask him now. Senator, will you serve a full term in the U.S. Senate if you’re elected?” Gray asked Paul.

“You know, the funny thing about hypocrisy is people come up with these things and it’s like well, Mayor are you going to serve a full term as mayor? You’re the one running for two offices. In fact, if anyone up here is distracted by running for two offices it’s you,” Paul responded.

The candidates also talked about choosing a new justice for the Supreme Court. Paul said  he could only imagine voting for a Hillary Clinton nominee if that person believes in the separation of powers.

Gray responded by saying he is practical and thinks the senate should have already taken up the confirmation process.

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!