Grimes refocuses position on Syria as McConnell campaign attempts to fundraise on his opposition to it

09/11/2013 09:31 AM

UPDATED: Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes refocused her position on Syria in light of the diplomatic efforts for the international community to take control of the country’s chemical weapons.

Pure Politics first asked Grimes her position on the use of chemical weapons by Assad on rebels and civilians in late August. At the time Grimes said “the last thing I want to do is to get Kentuckians in an open ended conflict with no exit strategies.”

In an emailed statement sent late Tuesday after President Obama’s televised speech, Grimes issued a statement saying she still wants to hear a defined exit strategy.

“I remain steadfast that there must be an end game before the United States commits to military action. There are many unanswered questions, and like so many Kentuckians, I am skeptical because the Administration and Congress have yet to outline a clear plan,” Grimes said in the statement.

Obama took to the national TV airwaves last night to make his case for a “limited” strike against Syria in the face of dismal Congressional approval for a strike.

However, Obama did say Secretary of State John Kerry would travel to Switzerland to meet with his Russian counterpart Thursday. And Obama said he also would continue diplomatic talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a diplomatic solution.

Grimes expressed “encouragement” in her hope for a diplomatic solution in her statement Tuesday night.

“I am encouraged by the developments of a potential international coalition to hold Assad accountable, as well as the bipartisan efforts in the U.S. Senate to reach a diplomatic solution,” Grimes said. “Diplomacy takes a coalition and we need to give diplomacy – not unilateral action – an opportunity to bear results.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday morning that he would oppose a military strike in Syria. The rest of Kentucky’s federal delegation had already announced their opposition to a strike last week .

As Obama’s speech was ending last night, McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton sent out a fundraising email touting McConnell’s opposition to a strike.

“Today was a ringing example of why we need to keep Mitch fighting for us in the United States Senate. Anything that you can contribute will go a long way towards our goal,” Benton said in the email.

Grimes campaign responded to McConnell’s campaign attempts to fundraise off of the Syria debate as “shameful.”

“Senator McConnell’s fundraising email is outrageous and shameful. It is politics at its worst. Senator McConnell is exploiting the tragedy in Syria for his own political gain. It took him weeks to tell Kentuckians where he stood, yet only seconds to fundraise off of this humanitarian crisis,” Campaign Spokeswoman Charly Norton said in a statement.

And the campaign of McConnell’s Republican primary challenger Matt Bevin on Tuesday dubbed McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, “Follower McConnell,” for waiting two weeks to outline his position publicly.

“Congratulations to Sen. McConnell for finally coming off the sidelines and reaching a decision on Syria after Matt Bevin, other congressional leaders, and a majority of the public made up their minds against an attack,” Bevin’s spokeswoman Sarah Durand. said. “Once it looked increasingly clear that the strikes will not happen, Sen. McConnell read the tea leaves.”

McConnell’s campaign spokeswoman responded Grimes’ move on her Syria position calling it “embarrassing.”

“The lengths that Alison Lundergan Grimes is willing to go to distract voters from her support of President Obama’s Syria plan is embarrassing,” said McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore. “ The reality is that she’s been unmasked for her unwavering support for Obama Administration policies and she’s desperate to cover her tracks.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.