Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has refused seven times in the past seven days to say whether or not she voted for President Barack Obama for president.
Grimes was asked three times by a Herald-Leader reporter after an event on Oct. 2 if she voted for Obama, ignoring the question and turning her back on the reporter asking it.
On Thursday, Grimes refused four times to tell The Courier-Journal’s editorial board if she voted for Obama.
“You know, this election, it isn’t about the president,” Grimes said when first asked if she voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.
After being asked the third time, Grimes responded: “I was actually a delegate for Hillary Clinton, and I think that Kentuckians know I’m a Clinton Democrat through and through. I respect the sanctity of the ballot box, and I know that the members of this editorial board do as well.”
At that point, a member of the newspaper’s editorial board said: “So you’re not going to answer?”
“Again, I don’t think that the president is on the ballot as much as Mitch McConnell might want him to be,” Grimes said. “It’s my name, and it’s going to be me who’s holding him accountable for the failed decisions and votes that he has made against the people of Kentucky.”
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s campaign was quick to note that Grimes, who is Kentucky’s secretary of state, was a delegate to Obama’s nominating conventions in 2008 and 2012.
She told the Herald-Leader in 2012 that it was “no secret” she was attending the Democratic National Convention as an Obama delegate.
“I’m a lifelong Democrat,” Grimes told the Herald-Leader. “I’m very proud of that and the values our party stands for. My support of our party and our nominee is well-known.”
The McConnell campaign circulated video of Grimes’ response Thursday, along with a picture of her and her husband, Andrew, at the 2013 Kentucky Society’s Bluegrass Ball, one of a series of inaugural balls that celebrated the re-elected president’s swearing-in.
Grimes has taken great pains to avoid appearing close to Obama, even proclaiming in one of the campaign’s most talked-about ads: “I’m not Barack Obama.”
After Thursday’s deflections, national political reporters took notice. Chuck Todd, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, declared the refusal to answer “just silly.”
“The fear of giving McConnell a TV ad line is not worth looking THIS evasive, is it?” Todd tweeted.
Throughout the interview, Grimes answered most questions about where she stands on the issues with biting critiques of McConnell’s 30 years in office, including his recent refusal to say whether or not he believes global warming is real.
When asked why she doesn’t believe McConnell’s potential rise to Senate majority leader would benefit Kentucky, Grimes said the “era of the earmark is over,” arguing that McConnell’s rise in status over the years has not benefitted the Bluegrass State and that she doesn’t think that would change if he were re-elected.
“No good woman is ever gonna change a man no matter how much you try,” Grimes said. “I know that from being married.”
Grimes also was asked whether she agreed with anything McConnell has done, and in a stark reversal of her campaign’s message that McConnell has failed to help the coal industry, Grimes said she and McConnell are “both strong supporters of our coal industry,” though she said they differ as to how that industry should be restored.