Alison Lundergan Grimes channels Patches O’Houlihan on campaign trail

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic Senate candidate for Kentucky, seems to be adopting the five D’s of dodgeball on the campaign trail: dodge, duck, dip, dive, and…dodge. Nevertheless, she’s running in a statistical dead heat against Republican incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell. Yet, I’m sure Mr. McConnell was feeling a lot better after the Kentucky Farm Bureau Forum, where Grimes had a less-than-stellar performance, coming off as “rehearsed,” with answers that sounded too much like talking points. As a result, she’s resorted to ducking more debates with Mitch (via NRO):


The campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes said Tuesday that a scheduling conflict would prevent her from agreeing to a September 5 debate at WHAS-TV,” Joe Arnold wrote. “The campaign of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had accepted WHAS-TV’s debate compromise proposal one day earlier, explaining that September 5, one of the dates proposed by the television station, is ‘the only date we have available.’”

Grimes also declined to attend a debate hosted by another local outlet, WDRB, after McConnell accepted the invitation. It’s true that Grimes has agreed to participate in an October 13 debate, but, from the beginning of the race, McConnell has been far more eager to have a direct confrontation. He invited her to three Lincoln-Douglas-style debates with no audience in the room. They would have taken place throughout the summer, had she accepted.

Grimes refused, saying, according to the Associated Press, that “she wants an audience and debates in September or October when more people will be paying attention to the election.”

Yet, this isn’t the first time Grimes has employed evasive maneuvers during the campaign. Recently, she ducked questions about whether she received a possibly illegal in-kind campaign contribution from her father’s company relating to her tour bus; she’s allegedly renting it at under market prices.  When asked about it by local news affiliates at Kentucky’s 51st Annual Ham Breakfast, Grimes simply said she was “excited to be at the annual ham breakfast” and looked forward to the 500 lbs. of eggs and ham that would be served.

On immigration, the border crisis is a national emergency, with tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors heading towards the United States. How should we deal with that issue? Would Grimes support President Obama’s $3.7 billion package to address the issue? Well, we don’t know not exactly. She dodged the question, as reported by Sam Youngman of the Lexington-Herald Leader last July:

Pressed on whether she would vote for the $3.7 billion supplemental, Grimes repeated her oft-used line that she is “going to assess everything when I’m in the United States Senate in the light of ‘is it good for Kentucky?'”

When asked whether the proposed funding was good for Kentucky, Grimes responded: “In terms of immigration reform, I think … earned pathway to citizenship and a secure border is much needed, not just for Kentucky but for the entire nation.”

Grimes was asked again, specifically, about the $3.7 billion Obama requested.

“Again, the bill that came out of the Senate, I strongly supported and I will continue to monitor the legislation that is before Congress and hope that Mitch McConnell won’t stand in the way of reform, especially much-needed reform and earned pathway to citizenship helping our farmers here in Kentucky,” Grimes said.

On the issue of Obamacare, Ms. Grimes has again avoided laying out her position.

Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes on Wednesday twice refused to say whether she would have voted for President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Asked two times whether she’d have voted for the 2010 overhaul, the Kentucky Democrat who is challenging Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell told The Associated Press: “I, when we are in the United States Senate, will work to fix the Affordable Care Act.”

Grimes added: “I believe the politically motivated response you continue to see from Mitch McConnell in terms of repeal, root and branch, is not in reality or keeping … with what the facts are here in Kentucky.”


With the Keystone Pipeline, it’s the same old game of dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough described her as “twisting in the wind” on this issue.

I can see why Grimes probably doesn’t want to debate McConnell until October 13; she has some homework to do. She has to come up with  answers to questions that she’s refused to address on the campaign trail. I get that in a state where President Obama has abysmal approval ratings, red state Democrats, like Grimes; have to be savvier in their political maneuvering. But so far, she’s decided to hide under the bed and wait until the October 13 debate. The August Bluegrass poll might have something to do with it.

For starters, only 28 percent of Kentucky registered voters view the president favorably; McConnell and Grimes aren’t seen as much better, with both registering at 36 percent.

Kentucky voters want Republicans to retake the majority in the Senate by an 8-point margin, but Grimes leads 42/37 on the question about which candidate they trust at creating jobs. Yet, 22 percent are undecided on this issue; there’s room for either side to grow. The same goes for who Kentucky voters trust to keep Medicare financially solvent and affordable for seniors. Both Grimes and McConnell are tied at 42 percent, with 16 percent undecided.

Amongst likely voters, if the election were held today, McConnell would win 47/45 over Grimes. McConnell would win the 18-34 vote (49/44), virtually tie Grimes with women voters (46/47), and take about 27 percent of the African-American vote. That’s not a bad base of support. Yet, 25 percent said that they might change their minds between now and Election Day.


So, I guess one could understand why Grimes is more cautious; one wrong move and it could be the ballgame. But is sounding like a robot the way to move the needle in her direction?  For goodness sake, Sen. Mark Pryor, who is in the same dire political situation as Grimes, released a pro-Obamacare ad in Arkansas. With a D next to her name, not answering the question is the same as giving an answer to questions about policies that liberal Democrats adore.  Authenticity seems to be the secret weapon in winning over voters. Grimes hasn’t done  herself any favors in this department and if she bombs in October, which looking at her string of videos wouldn’t be shocking in the slightest; then McConnell will obviously run away with it.

This Patches O’Houlihan protocol Grimes has adapted possibly tells us that Grimes is afraid to articulate her positions, she’s too liberal, and  she’s not a good communicator. With that, she’s placing all her eggs in one basket with this October 13 debate this fall. So, be sure to bring your popcorn. It could be highly entertaining, albeit potentially brutal for Grimes.

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Jazz Shaw 9:20 AM | February 29, 2024