How empty dresses and nose holding, not issues, have defined early phase of 2014 Senate race

09/05/2013 11:13 AM

The flak du jour that has national pundits chattering about Kentucky’s 2014 U.S. Senate race is another outbreak of foot-in-mouth disease.

The spokesman for the NRSC, this week, referred to Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in an article in The Hill as “an empty dress.”

Brad Dayspring, the NRSC spokesman, referenced “incoherent” statements and parroting national Democratic leaders and referred to Grimes’ initial comments to Pure Politics about her thoughts on the United States getting involved in Syria. The “empty dress” comment was the subject of a two-day press release shouting match between Democratic and Republican groups and even made MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday and Politico .

Pausing to answer questions on Syria last week was been one of the few times that Grimes stopped to address an issue outside of the Affordable Care Act or why she’s running against U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

And so far, the race has been remarkably devoid of issues. McConnell has stopped to talk to reporters a few times while he has been back in Kentucky for the August recess. But the McConnell campaign and Grimes campaign have both shied away from making their candidates available for in-depth interviews.

In the place of issue debates, the void has been filled by empty calorie stories about the use of the term “empty dress” or Grimes’ comment about the Affordable Care Act being needed to combat the effect of fatty fair foods or a recording of McConnell’s campaign manager saying he’s holding his nose.

Some Democrats have said Grimes is on the right path by keeping her discussion of the issues to a minimum early on.

“Once we get into 2014, I think we’ll see her be outspoken on a number of issues. I think the voters will have plenty of time to hear where she stands,” said U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville. Here’s my interview with him on that topic from last month:

“She’s in a position where she can sit back and watch Mitch McConnell and Matt Bevin go at each other. I don’t think she needs to do much to strengthen her position,” Yarmuth said.

Bevin, who was in studio on Friday for his first extensive interview with Pure Politics, said he is trying to focus on issues even as McConnell spends ad money and time “taking the low road.” (1:10 of the 2:20 interview segment below).

Still, Bevin said McConnell is “without question” more qualified than Grimes.

“One of them is qualified to be a senator. And he currently is,” Bevin said.

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