The Most Defensive Campaign Of The Midterms

It belongs to Alison Grimes, the Democrats’ Senate candidate in Kentucky. She has repeatedly refused to disclose whether or not she voted for Obama. Mitch McConnell is taking full advantage of the situation:

Ed Morrissey rolls his eyes in her direction:

Alison Grimes isn’t running for the position of Private Citizen. She’s running for the US Senate in a cycle where Barack Obama’s agenda is very much on the table — just as Obama himself insisted earlier this month. She wants Kentucky voters to replace McConnell with her, but won’t say whether she’ll vote for Obama’s agenda, instead offering wishy-washy language about independence while taking no stands on Obama policies like ObamaCare and coal restrictions. Now she wants to pretend that, even though Grimes served as a delegate to both of the Democratic National Conventions, in 2008 and 2012, that nominated Obama for President, her support of Obama in the election is somehow a mystery — and that it’s none of the business of Kentucky voters because of the principle of the secret ballot. 

Sam Youngman weighs in:

The problem with Grimes’s answer is that she had no problem telling Austin Ryan, who interviewed Grimes as part of a documentary for KET and the University of Kentucky, that she voted for Hillary Clinton in Kentucky’s 2008 Democratic primary.

Ultimately, who Grimes voted for in the last two presidential elections isn’t going to be what decides this race. What has hurt Grimes throughout is who won the presidency and how Kentucky views him. The president’s approval ratings hover around 30 percent in Kentucky, and McConnell has all but physically sewn Obama to Grimes.

Drum compares Grimes’ failed political dodge to those of Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst and Colorado Senate candidate Cory Gardner:

The difference is that Grimes was clumsy over her handling of a process issue: her support for a president of her own party. Reporters feel free to go after that. Ernst, by contrast, was crafty over her handling of policy issues: in this case, environmental policy and health care policy. Likewise, Gardner is being crafty about his handling of abortion and contraceptive policy. That sort of craftiness generally invites little censure because political reporters don’t want to be seen taking sides on an issue of policy—or even rendering judgment about whether a candidate’s policy positions have changed.

Jason Zengerle calls “Grimes’s refusal to say who she voted for is emblematic of her entire campaign, which, for the last 15 months, has been waged in a defensive crouchevading and obfuscating at every turn.”:

Grimes’s candidacy is showing just how absurdand ultimately self-defeating the modern political campaign has become. So preoccupied with not making mistakes, and demonizing the opponent, the modern political campaign often forgets what would seemingly be its most important task: to make an affirmative case for its candidate. If Grimes and Terri Lynn Landthe Republican candidate for Senate in Michigan who’s run a similarly bunkered raceboth go down to defeat, perhaps it’ll serve as something of a wake-up call to strategists on both sides of the aisle.