Republicans seize on Iron Dome comment by Alison Lundergan Grimes

Alison Lundergan Grimes
Alison Lundergan Grimes Lexington Herald-Leader

Republicans took to the Internet Wednesday morning to assail Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes after she said Tuesday that Israel's missile defense system had helped prevent terrorist attacks from Hamas' tunnel network.

"Obviously, Israel is one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, and she has the right to defend herself," Grimes said. "But the loss of life, especially the innocent civilians in Gaza is a tragedy. The Iron Dome has been a big reason why Israel has been able to withstand the terrorists that have tried to tunnel their way in."

[Listen to a recording of Grimes speaking with reporters Tuesday evening about the Iron Dome and other topics.]

By Wednesday morning, allies of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and conservative commentators had jumped on the remark as evidence that Grimes lacks policy knowledge.

[Related story: Mitch McConnell edges ahead of Alison Lundergan Grimes in close Senate race]

"It's embarrassing that a Senate candidate would say this, particularly about our closest ally in the Middle East," said Brook Hougesen, spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Alison Lundergan Grimes has been a candidate for over a year, yet is still fundamentally unprepared to answer basic questions and has failed to provide any sort of substantive policy plan."

The conservative Washington Free Beacon wrote that "Grimes response casts doubt on her grasp of the basic facts in the Middle East."

"It is unclear whether Grimes believes the Israelis should have used steel, titanium, or a stronger material, such as kryptonite, to build the dome," the Free Beacon wrote.

Erick Erickson, the editor of blog site RedState.com who backed McConnell's Republican opponent in the primary, wrote a blog post entitled: "Hey Alison Grimes: Iron Dome does not stop tunnels."

For good measure, Erickson added: "No, I am not kidding."

According to the Huffington Post, the Grimes campaign clarified the remark Wednesday morning, saying in a statement from Grimes: "The Iron Dome is an integral part of Israel's defense system which allows them to defend themselves against missiles and focus their efforts on eradicating the terrorists who try to tunnel their way in."

Later Wednesday, McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said Grimes’ initial comment demonstrated that “she has a frightening lack of understanding on consequential issues confronting our nation.”