FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Republicans accused Democrat Alison Grimes on Wednesday of exploiting an "offensive" GOP tweet in an effort to avoid bigger issues in her bid to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The tweet sent out by a junior staffer at the National Republican Senatorial Committee contained a photo-shopped image of Grimes' face superimposed on the body of "Obama Girl," a model who made racy videos about her crush on then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2007. In the tweet, the woman wore a snug-fitting Obama T-shirt with her midriff showing.
"I find it ridiculous that Alison Lundergan Grimes is trying to make a big deal out of some tweet," said former state Republican Party chairwoman Ellen Williams.
She said the tweet "has nothing to do with Sen. McConnell when here at home Kentuckians are suffering from rising unemployment in our coal region due to President Obama's excessive regulations and more than 280,000 hard working Kentuckians have lost their health insurance due to Obamacare."
Williams added, "Alison Lundergan Grimes should be talking about these issues with Kentucky women instead of scouring twitter for political opportunities."
McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton arranged for Republican women to join a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning, giving a second day of life to the story that broke on Tuesday. That's when the NRSC took disciplinary action against a junior staffer who sent the tweet.
NRSC spokeswoman Brook Hougesen called the tweet "extremely offensive" and said the organization has taken steps to ensure "it will never happen again."
Benton said Wednesday he doesn't condone the tweet, telling reporters that it shouldn't have been sent.
Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton said in a statement that McConnell's surrogates seem to have implied that Grimes was "asking for it."
"This is about respect," Norton said. "No woman deserves to be treated that way."
Grimes' 83-year-old grandmother, Elsie Case of Maysville, joined in the verbal jousting with a statement of her own on Wednesday.
"There are a million of us mothers and grandmothers in Kentucky who think Team Mitch ought to wash their mouths out with soap," said Case, the sassy senior who stumps for Grimes and appears in her political ads.