Seriously?: Vulnerable Senate Democrat refuses to debate foreign policy with Republican opponent

It’s stories like these where you wish you could have been a fly on the wall in the room while this decision was made. Apparently, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) refused to talk about foreign policy in an upcoming debate with his Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR). Well, not only did Pryor’s campaign refuse, they lied about, to boot:

Senator Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) declined to debate foreign-policy issues with Representative Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) when they meet next month.

“The campaign for Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor said last week that it had not rejected any topics from being included in the only debate agreed to so far by the senator and his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton,” a local media outlet reports. “But an email obtained by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Tuesday showed that Pryor’s campaign had rejected the inclusion of foreign policy in the debate sponsored by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce.”

In the e-mail, the debate moderator tells the Cotton campaign that “Pryor folks rejected adding ‘foreign policy’ to the list of topics for the Fayetteville Chamber debate.”

There are a couple reasons why Pryor is probably skittish on the issue. First, the mid-term election is shaping up to be focused on foreign policy, given the tensions with Russia, the deteriorating situation in Libya, and the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. There’s also the administration’s ongoing training and armament of Syrian rebels who are involved in a bloody civil war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The other reason is that Cotton, who was a Captian in the U.S. Army from 2005 to 2009, served in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Pryor has already come under fire for attacking Cotton’s military service, claiming that he has a “sense of entitlement” because he wore the uniform.

Pryor’s campaign likely believes that if they stay on domestic issues, they have a shot at score points against Cotton in what is a very close race, one that could decide control of the Senate. But even then, the economy is still sputtering along, Obamacare isn’t very popular in Arkansas, and the Obama administration’s foreign policy is a disaster.

And though there aren’t many elections in which foreign policy plays a significant role, 2014 is an exception to that rule. Pryor, who is already trying to distance himself from an unpopular White House, finds himself facing yet another issue where he has to runaway from President Obama.

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