Alison Lundergan Grimes Really Doesn’t Want To Admit She Voted For Obama

Sometimes, being evasive in answering a question just makes a politician look silly. This is one of those times.

Grimes McConnell

During a meeting late this week with the Editorial Board of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Alison Lundergan Grimes did everything she could to not answer the question of whether or not she voted for President Obama:

Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), who is trying to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) this fall, appeared before the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board on Thursday to make her pitch for their endorsement. The life-long Democrat, whose father represented Kentucky for the party in the state House and who herself has been on the ballot in the state on the Democratic ticket, was asked a simple question. Did she vote for President Obama in 2008 and 2012?

And she didn’t answer. Repeatedly.


Obama is far more unpopular in Kentucky than he is in the rest of the country. Polling last month had his approval rating in the state at about 30 percent, the sort of numbers that wouldn’t earn him a victory in the state if he were to run again, not that he won it in 2008 or 2012.

Grimes tries to pivot off of the board’s question (for some reason!) by linking herself to Hillary Clinton. There’s not a lot of good data on Clinton’s approval in Kentucky, but at least the state voted for her husband twice. If you have to be a type of Democrat in Kentucky, be a “Clinton Democrat” as Grimes puts it. Fine.

Here’s the video of the full segment of the interview that focused on this question:

Not surprisingly, Grimes is taking heat for her evasive response to what seems like a ridiculously convoluted attempt to answer a simple question:

U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes found herself under attack from the right, left and the middle on Friday following an editorial board interview with The Courier-Journal in which she four times refused to say if she voted for President Barack Obama.

Video of Grimes trying to not answer the question went viral, garnering hundreds of thousands of hits on various websites that posted it and she had numerous commentators questioning whether she is a viable candidate because of it.

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, adjectives like “ridiculous” and “cringe-worthy” and “amateur” were used.

“And Kentuckians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything?” asked NBC political reporter Chuck Todd on the show. “I think she disqualified herself.”

Even the liberal Daily Kos website took shots at Grimes.

“No one is impressed by that. Kentucky people think she is a Democrat and assume she voted for Obama,” the website wrote

“Either she did or did not. If she did not, she should say so. Here she just looks cowardly,” Kos wrote. “And this does nothing to increase turnout. Pathetic on her part.”

The Washington Post called it “40 painful seconds.”

It’s not surprising that Grimes would want to dance around this issue, of course. As Philip Bump notes in the Washington Post piece quoted at the top of this post, President Obama’s job approval in Kentucky is among the lowest of any state in the country and the Grimes campaign has not exactly eagerly attached itself to the Obama Administration as this campaign has gone forward. On some issues in fact, such as coal, the candidate has taken a position precisely opposite from that taken by the President and his Administration. So far, the President has not been in the state to campaign for Grimes, and it seems incredibly unlikely that he will be there any time in the closing weeks of the campaign. Instead, we’re seeing Grimes bring in surrogates like Bill Clinton, who is of course a politician and campaigner par excellence who is popular in the South in ways that Barack Obama will never be. We may also see Hillary Clinton pop into the state in the closing weeks, although that’s a dicier situation given that she is obviously already on track to throw her hat in the ring for President, though. When it comes to President Obama, though, we’re not likely to see Grimes embracing the Administration at any time in the closing days of the campaign, especially given how close the race is.

That being said, there are clearly better ways that Grimes could have answered this question and while this is a minor mistake she’s in a position right now where she can ill afford to make any mistakes at all if she’s going to have any chance of pulling off an upset win.

FILED UNDER: 2014 Election, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. edmondo says:

    It’s OK Ms. Grimes, we all got fooled in 2008. Not sure what your excuse would be in 2012 other than the second-worst guy beat the worst guy ever.

  2. Matt says:

    @edmondo: Indeed I never expected bush lite…

  3. beth says:

    Did Chuck Todd think McConnell disqualified himself when McConnell said his only objective was to make Obama a one term president? It’s ridiculous how Republicans can say the most bats**t crazy stuff and somehow that never disqualifies them in the eyes of the media. Liberal media indeed – that’s the biggest hoax the Republicans have foisted on this country.

  4. EddieInCA says:

    No. Wrong.

    She doesn’t want a few words taken out of context and turned into a Mitch McConnell ad. That’s all.

    I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you, that a politician is acting like a politician.

  5. Stonetools says:

    How do you campaign in a state where a lot of your constituents hate the black man in the White House, despite benefitting personally from a program that he championed? Very carefully.
    Grimes’ distancing herself from the President isn’t a profile in courage, and I’m not a fan of her ” See, I’m a conservative too” approach. But you campaign with the constituency you have, not the perfect, rational constituency you want to have. In a state where Obamacare has been a big success, you would naturally want to tout your connection with the President.
    But hey, the majority of Kentucky are Appalachian whites and they really do not like the black man in the White House with the cosmopolitan background and liberal outlook. I notice Doug just skips over the question of exactly why Kentuckians dislike Obama so much. I also don’t remember Republicans inviting GWB to campaign for them in 2008.

  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Ok, Doug, we get it. You don’t like Grimes. Move on …

  7. edmondo says:

    I notice Doug just skips over the question of exactly why Kentuckians dislike Obama so much.

    And – in your deluded little world – that 38% job approval depends entirely on that skin color and not on his policies? Until you let that go, you deserve to lose the House and the Senate. The problem is, you will never, ever, understand why.

  8. HarvardLaw92 says:


    And in your deluded little world, skin color has absolutely nothing to do with the opposition? You have proof of this “the electoral is entirely rational and bases its decisions entirely on intellectual criteria, while excluding emotional criteria” thesis?

    I mean, let’s face it. You had people in Kentucky signing up for Kynect while excoriating “Obamacare” – while they were signing up …

    43% of Kentuckians approve of “Obamacare”. 78% of them approve of Kynect – and it’s the same damn thing …

    Point being? Voters are largely stupid and emotional creatures, tasked with making decisions about issues that they largely do not understand, but each of them believes himself to be an expert.

    Take tribal mentality and throw in Dunning-Kruger, and you’ll get the American electorate.

    Point being? If some 35% of Kentuckians are too stupid to figure out that Kynect and “Obamacare” are the same damn thing, you can probably bet that a decent sized portion of them don’t like that n***er in the White House either.

    To pretend otherwise is disingenuous …

  9. JKB says:

    Why do all of you insist on judging Obama by the color of his skin rather than the content of his character? You seek to project your racism on others but, you are the ones who can’t see the man for the color of his skin. It’s sad. I guess Bull Conner and George Wallace are alive and well in their party.

  10. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Hold on, I had to screech my brakes, and I still had to back up for that inversion.

    “We’re not racists. You are racists for suggesting that we’re racists.”

    Masterpiece. Orwell would have been impressed

  11. Stonetools says:


    Indeed. I do wonder what the conservative explanation is for white Kentuckians voting against Obama while benefitting from Obamacare. One woman, while praising the benefits of Obamacare, said bluntly that she was voting for Obama because she just doesn’t like Obama.
    Conservatives are never going to admit that much of their support( note I did not say all) is based largely on racism and on veiled appeals to racism and so they pass over the fact in silence and accuse liberals of being the real racists when we point this out.

  12. Eric Florack says:

    THere is perhaps no better indication of the coming wave, than the Democrats running away from Obama. They know whats coming.

  13. wr says:

    @JKB: You know, most people realize that “I know you are but what am I?” is not actually the height of rhetorical genius about the time they leave the fifth grade. Most people, but apparently not you and Jenos. I guess if that’s all you’ve got, that’s what you go with.

  14. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Conservatives are never going to admit that much of their support( note I did not say all) is based largely on racism and on veiled appeals to racism

    When you have their patron saint, Ronald of Burbank, kicking off his campaign at the Neshoba County Fair (of all places …) babbling about “states rights”, it doesn’t require a genius level intellect to discern what he was referring to as he was speaking to that lily white crowd …

    Cognitive dissonance is a foundation stone of conservative campaigns. Truthfully, I know several conservative legislators, and to a man none of them believe even half of the shite they spew on the campaign trail, but they spew it anyway.

    Because their audience buys it …

  15. Tyrell says:

    I watched her give answers at some sort of conference. One question was about the illegal immigration crisis and what she would do. What she said was meaninglessness political doubletalk: no specifics. I had hoped for something different than a standard political feel good offend no one line.
    And who ever asked the question, maybe a reporter, referred to tbem as “people without proper documentation” : political correct garbage to the extreme.
    New definition of speeding: unbalanced pressure of accelerator lever.