Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) will not be in North Carolina when President Barack Obama comes to deliver a speech on the economy on Wednesday.
Instead, Hagan will be in Washington D.C. as the Senate is in session during Obama’s visit. The White House has brushed off suggestions that Hagan is trying to keep her distance from the president while she faces a tough re-election.
“I think Sen. Hagan’s office has addressed that. I think she’s here working on important business,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said on Tuesday according to The Hill.
Hagan is facing a tough reelection fight. A recent Public Policy Polling survey found Hagan trailing or neck-and-neck with all the contenders running in the GOP primary to defeat the North Carolina senator. The poll found that in a head-to-head matchup with North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, the frontrunner in the primary field, the Republican leads Hagan 44 percent to 42 percent.
Republicans have interpreted Hagan’s decision as a sign that she’s trying to get as much distance from Obama as possible. But Democrats say that’s not true.
“Kay Hagan is fighting for North Carolina in the Senate because that’s her job and that’s what North Carolinians want her to do,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee press secretary Justin Barasky told TPM. “Faux outrage from Washington Republicans and their special interest backers is nothing more than smoke and mirrors to distract from a divisive Republican primary and the reckless and irresponsible agenda pushed by all of the GOP candidates in North Carolina.”
This post was updated.