Editorial: What goes around comes around for Hagan, Democrats

Published 1:03 am Sunday, November 2, 2014

Back in 2008, then Democratic challenger Kay Hagan tried to paint U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole as a rubber-stamp for President George W. Bush. It was a good strategy, given Bush’s low voter-approval numbers and how upstart Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was gaining a lot of traction in North Carolina.

Here’s what Hagan said six years ago about Dole’s support as senator of Bush’s policies: “Voting 92 percent of the time with the president, whether you support him or not, doesn’t work here in North Carolina. It is time for someone to reach across the party lines and finally get something done in this country.”

Well, what goes around comes around for Hagan. Republican opponent Thom Tillis and the national political action committees supporting his candidacy are beating Hagan over the head for her voting more than 90 percent of the time with President Obama. The number 96 percent has been the one used most often.

Again, it’s solid political strategy, especially when you have Democratic Senate candidates across the country running from Obama like hornets from a can of Raid. It’s really pretty comical.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Kentucky, could not bring herself to say she voted for Obama in the past two elections when she was asked that simple question several times — did she? — during an interview. It also took several gulps and hesitations before Michelle Nunn, Democratic candidate in Georgia, would acknowledge being an Obama supporter in his previous two elections. Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mark Begich of Alaska and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana avoid associations with or discussions about Obama at every turn.

Although the president was available to campaign for Hagan all year, she chose instead former Secretary of State and likely 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as the heavy hitter to attend one of her biggest political rallies this fall. The only time Hagan appeared with Obama in North Carolina this year was when she greeted him with a kiss at the Charlotte airport when he flew in for the American Legion convention.

Hagan has had her own troubles answering questions connected with the president. When asked whether Obama has been a strong leader, Hagan answered only that he “has a lot on his plate.” Asked whether the president has done a good job, Hagan ticked off Afghanistan, Iraq, ISIS and Ebola and said, “I think he has a very difficult job.”

Among Democrats, only Gary Peters in Michigan has seemed to have the backbone to appear this campaign season with Obama, and that’s a shame.

Hagan and the other Democrats could have easily embraced the president and the things he has accomplished. There have been plenty of good things about the stimulus, Affordable Care Act, trying to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, an improving economy, a rebounding stock market and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Let’s face it — as the many Democratic congressional candidates have refused to this year — if you are a Democrat or Republican, it makes sense you would side on most issues with a president of your same party. That’s all a candidate put on the spot like Dole in 2008 and Hagan in 2014 has to say. Own it.

Diehard Democrats might even have this complaint for Hagan: “96 percent of the time? What were you thinking the other 4 percent?”

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