For weeks, news of Sen. Jim Inhofe's refusal to participate in a debate with challenger Abby Broyles has dominated headlines.
Broyles has reportedly reached out multiple times in effort to schedule a debate with incumbent Inhofe. Inhofe has repeatedly refused to participate.
In a recent visit to Claremore, Inhofe explained why.
"This is a technique we've heard about for a long time but we've never seen it applied in real life. And that is where you taking someone running against the incumbent and you take the greatest successes the incumbent has had and turn them into weaknesses by lying," Inhofe said, adding that Broyles has "lied about him in three key ways through her campaign ads."
First, Inhofe said, "My opponent says that I'm never back in Oklahoma, but I have a greater presence in Oklahoma than any U.S. senator since Henry Bellmon."
"My opponent says that I don't do anything for Oklahoma," Inhofe told the Progress. "But last year the National Farm Bureau gave me their biggest award. I was nominated for the award by the Oklahoma Farm Bureau because I saved the farmers from Obama's water rules. Before I was chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Oklahoma was a donor state for the highway program which sent money to other states. Now, Oklahoma gets more money because of me and because of that we now have the I-44 and I-40 expansion in Tulsa and Oklahoma City."
Inhofe continued, "Since I've been in the Senate, military bases across the country have closed, but Oklahoma's military installations have grown. And since I became chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, President Trump and I have reversed Obama's 25 percent cut to the military."
"My opponent says that I miss votes, but with the exception of a time when my wife was in the hospital, I've only missed two votes out of over 200 votes this year."
Inhofe added, "When you have three things that are stated that are the main three things in the campaign of the person challenging the incumbent and they're all lies….If you have someone that's going to say things that aren't true and you have no defense, you don't want to have joint appearances. You just don't want to do it."
In response to Inhofe's statement that he has declined debate requests because of lies in campaign ads, Broyles said: "Senator Inhofe has given several reasons for not debating this year, but the truth of the matter is he doesn’t want Oklahomans to see he’s no longer up for the job. After 25 years in Washington DC, he’s out of new ideas, he can’t defend his record on any of the issues of today, and he knows he can’t perform in a live debate or interview without notes. He wants to strip health care away from thousands of Oklahomans, including children, with pre-existing conditions, he refuses to acknowledge the thousands who are still struggling to pay their bills, and he’s actively working against our tribal governments. Oklahomans deserve a Senator who will answer directly for their actions and won’t hide from a challenge. He simply can’t do it anymore and is taking us all for granted thinking we haven’t noticed.”