Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) says she’s worried about Kentucky Democratic Senate nominee Jack Conway’s decision to make his opponent’s 30-year-old college stories a campaign issue.
“This ad is a very dangerous ad because it reaches back to college,” McCaskill said, referring to Conway’s latest spot attacking Rand Paul over his years as an undergrad at Baylor University. “I think the ad came close to the line, but what is interesting about this ad is how Rand Paul handled it. I think it shows how thin-skinned and how unready he is for the kind of give-and-take that you’ve got to be willing to endure if you’re going to be at the top levels of discourse in politics.”
McCaskill criticized Paul, the Republican nominee, for walking off the stage at a debate last night without shaking hands with Conway.
“The idea that [Paul] wouldn’t shake his opponent’s hand, I think, is wrong under any circumstances,” she said.
Conway has been ripping Republican Rand Paul over allegations that he blindfolded a woman and asked her to “worship Aqua Buddha” while member of a club at Baylor University that Conway says “mocked Christianity.” After a hard-hitting debate centered mostly on Paul’s college career, Paul called Conway “an embarrassment to this race” and refused to meet Conway when the forum was over.
[TPM SLIDESHOW – TPM’s Day At ‘Fancy Farm’: Kentucky Pols Spar At Annual Political Kickoff Picnic]McCaskill suggested that behavior was over the top.
“With all due respect I can pull up lots of negative ads the Republicans have run that you would be just as outraged over,” McCaskill told the panel on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning.
McCaskill also called Paul “out there” and “an extreme candidate” while praising Conway as “very common sense and very moderate.”
On a conference call with reporters today, Conway spokesperson John Collins defended the ad and the Baylor messaging against criticisms like McCaskill’s.
“The focus is for Rand Paul to come forward and explain his actions,” Collins said. “Remember, this is an ad about things he did — he has failed to deny any of these charges. Instead, he lashes out and huffs and puffs and storms off the stage.”
Watch McCaskill on MSNBC (video clipped by the NRSC):
The TPM Poll Average shows Paul leading Conway 46.9-41.7.