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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Jeff Sessions is challenging his opponent for the GOP nomination in the race for U.S. Senate to five debates, one for each major market in the state.

“Its time for Tommy Tuberville to man up,” said Sessions.

Exactly seven weeks before the runoff election, Sessions announced a debate challenge.

“We are talking about launching somebody from Alabama for six years in the United States Senate,” said Sessions. “We need to know who they are, what they believe, what they’ll fight for, what they’ll die for.”

Sessions says Tuberville’s response to the debate challenge will speak to his fight in the U.S. senate.

“If you won’t debate Jeff Sessions, will you debate Chuck Shumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren? The liberal Democrats that I challenge day after day?” asked Sessions.

WHNT News 19 reached out to Tommy Tuberville for his response to the challenge.

He sent the statement: “If coaching taught me anything, it’s that you don’t let the losing team dictate the game when you’re sitting on a lead.”

At the beginning of May, independent polling group Cygnal surveyed over 600 people and showed Tuberville leading session by more than 20 percentage points.

Our news partner reports the survey of 607 likely Republican voters showed 55.1% probably or definitely favoring Tuberville, to 31.8% probably or definitely favoring Sessions. Breaking that down further, 36.5% definitely favored Tuberville, and 19.4% definitely favored Sessions.

WHNT News 19 asked Sessions what he expects to come out of the debates.

“Well the most important thing to come out of those debates is for the man who would be our senator, this unproven person, to be able to articulate that he has a grasp of the great issues of our time,” he said.

Sessions says his leg up in the race is his experience in the Senate. He says Tuberville needs to prove himself in a debate.

“He’s got a lot to prove,” said Sessions. “The ball is in his court. What are you, why are you ready to go to Washington? That’s the question. Can we trust you to fight for us? You can trust Jeff Sessions. I’ve proven it.”

Alabama voters will be able to vote for who they trust on July 14, 2020. Whoever wins the runoff election will challenge democrat Doug Jones in the general election.

You can read the full statements from Sessions and Tuberville below:

“It is time for you to stop running away, and face me and the voters of Alabama. No candidate who is scared to debate, or unable to defend our values, is worthy of support from the people of Alabama.

I challenge you to a series of five debates before the voters of Alabama, one for each major media market in our state. This will allow us to discuss the unique issues of each geographic area, as well as national and international issues.

Anyone who represents our state needs to demonstrate that they know Alabama and each of its 67 unique counties. You can’t represent Alabama’s interests unless you prove that you understand Alabama and the challenges we face. Given your TV ads boasting about how strong you are (while standing in a gym where other people are exercising), I’m sure you can find it within yourself to demonstrate that strength in a series of debates so that the people of Alabama can see for themselves.

Being a United States Senator is more than just casting the occasional vote. Effective senators must be ready to debate Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and others on many issues and away from the safety of talking points scripted by Facebook’s chief open-borders lobbyist, who you’ve hired to help lead your Senate campaign.

And anyone representing Alabama needs to be fully vetted before they are trusted to represent Alabama Republicans in a race against Doug Jones. I’ve been fully vetted, over and over again. The national Democratic Party tried to find “dirt” on me when I helped President Trump win the 2016 election, and again when he nominated me for Attorney General. They came up empty, because there’s nothing there.

The Alabama voters need to hear you answer questions about the time you were sued for more than a million dollars in fraud at the failed hedge fund you started. They need to hear you answer questions about the suspicious circumstances of the unceremonious end to your Auburn coaching career—where you took millions of additional dollars beyond the buyout for which you weren’t even eligible. They need to hear about the times you walked out on college recruits or quit jobs just days after promising you wouldn’t do so. They need to know everything. Because there is no question that the Democrats and Doug Jones already do, and they will spend millions using the skeletons in your closet against you.

A United States Senate seat is no small thing. Any person afraid or lacking the knowledge to debate is automatically unqualified for the United States Senate.  I’m sure you agree.

The Senate is the one place in American government where states like Alabama and Arkansas (your home state) have as much power and as much say in what happens in this great nation of ours, as more populous states like California or Florida (where you retired, and voted in the last election).

Do you understand the importance of our military installations, our shipyards, and our farmers? Do you understand the struggles of Alabamians to simply get by in a world where unfair trade closes our factories and hollows out our rural communities? Do you recognize that massive immigration—legal and illegal—floods the labor market, reducing salaries and job opportunities for Alabama workers? You say you talk with your “business buddies” who tell you they want more foreign workers, and you favor bringing in another 400,000 workers from India to take American white-collar jobs. Do you understand that places like Alabama are the ones who are being hurt by this? Have you ever spoken out for the American people on these issues?

What do you know of the radical left’s attack on the Constitution and the rule of law? Unlike me, you have never served in the military; what makes you qualified to decide who will lead the Pentagon and lead America’s soldiers? Unlike me, you have never faced off against Chuck Schumer and won.

Alabama needs a Senator who is ready on Day One to help President Trump, not a lap dog who will impotently wait for him to help you when you can’t get anything done on Capitol Hill.

If you won’t debate me now before the voters of Alabama, with two months to go until the election, there is no doubt that you would be eaten alive by Doug Jones, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer.

You like to call me weak because I follow the law, and call yourself strong as you hide behind Silicon Valley’s talking points and clips from coaching jobs that you quit. Ok. Time to man up. Say it to my face. 
You are either strong enough to debate, or weak and scared.  I look forward to your response.”

Jeff Sessions

“If coaching taught me anything, it’s that you don’t let the losing team dictate the game when you’re sitting on a lead.

Jeff Sessions seems like he already has his hands full debating President Trump on Twitter about why the former Attorney General turned tail and ran during the Russia witch hunt hoax. President Trump even tweeted a warning that Alabamians can’t trust Sessions and that the Tuberville campaign is ‘the true supporter of the #MAGA agenda.’

Career politician Jeff Sessions has held government office for more than 40 years, but does he really understand Alabama voters? I’ve spent the last year traveling around the state, talking to what seems like every gathering of two or more Republicans, while Sessions is nowhere to be seen. Runoff voters already know where I stand on the important issues of the day.”

Tommy Tuberville