Republicans responded in near unison to Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s decision to skip the Democratic National Convention: You can’t escape President Obama that easily.
McCaskill, who is facing an uphill reelection bid in a state where the president’s popularity has waned, will not attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in September, her office confirmed to TPM Tuesday. State and national Republicans were quick to hype McCaskill’s ties to Obama, whom she has long supported, and insisted her move to skip the convention won’t obscure their connections.
“Between Obamacare and deficit spending, Sen. McCaskill has always been there for her friend President Obama,” RNC spokesperson Kristen Kukowski told TPM. “That history will be hard to the voters of Missouri to ignore.”
The Missouri Republican Party pointed out that McCaskill praised Obama at the 2008 convention, and has “voted with Barack Obama 95 percent of the time since 2010,” party spokesperson Jonathon Prouty said Tuesday.
“Missourians won’t soon forget that whether it was ObamaCare or reckless, deficit spending, Claire McCaskill has always been there for her good friend President Obama whenever he’s needed her vote,” said NRSC communications director Brian Walsh.
But while the party was happy for the opportunity to ding McCaskill Tuesday, the GOP three candidates vying to challenge her were less enthused.
“I think this is an effort by her to show some distance or at least avoid one more picture of her sitting next to the president,” said Patrick Tuohey, a spokesman for former state treasurer Sarah Steelman. In a statement, Steelman called out McCaskill for voting for Obama’s policies, like “Obamacare.”
Tuohey said the Steelman campaign has not yet discussed attending the Republican National Convention in Florida if she is the nominee.
The other two primary contenders, Rep. Todd Akin and businessman John Brunner, passed on the opportunity to slam McCaskill.
“We don’t have a bone to pick with this because she hasn’t gone traditionally in election years,” said Ryan Hite, communications director for Akin’s campaign. Hite said that McCaskill’s decision “seems like a fairly obvious call” given Obama’s standing in the state.
A spokesman for Brunner declined to comment to TPM.
In making the decision, an aide to the McCaskill campaign told TPM on Tuesday that McCaskill traditionally does not attend the convention during years in which she appears on the ballot, and that McCaskill preferred to spend that time campaigning in Missouri.
Update 6:15 PM: McCaskill brushed off the buzz surrounding her decision to opt out of the convention:
Whole lot of nothing over me campaigning w/Mo folks instead of going to convention w/party honchos. Bet POTUS agrees with my decision.— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) June 26, 2012
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.