Virginia Senate candidate George Allen took to the stump instead of flying to Florida for the GOP convention.
WARRENSBURG, Mo. - Call it the unconventional club. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and former Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) never served together. She was swept into office in 2006 by the same Democratic wave that swept him out. But the two find themselves sharing a select fraternity this summer as candidates running in tight races who stayed home to campaign, skipping altogether the quadrennial gatherings of the partisan faithful at which they have previously spoken.
Rather than attend the GOP gathering in Tampa, Fla., or the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Allen and McCaskill eschewed the national scene to travel in their states, seeking out audiences in smaller towns and faraway places.
Neither candidate seems to have any regrets about the decision to stay home, despite the occasional logistical snafu.
For McCaskill, her vaunted and enormous campaign RV backed into a red Toyota Corolla at Westminster College, giving it a little more than a love tap and little less than a bumper car hit. It created a brief little scene in the small town of Fulton, Mo., with a Westminster security guard loudly cursing as the bumper-on-bumper crunch sounded out.
And Allen was scheduled to appear in Richmond, Va., with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), on the day after the Republican convention, providing him with a big visibility bump and a plum spot with the newly minted presidential ticket. But at the last minute, Romney diverted to New Orleans to survey the aftermath of Hurricane Isaac. Ryan still showed.
If nothing else, the candidates could talk about how much more they preferred their home states to the convention cities.
"I'm here. I'm here with Virginians," Allen said in Leesburg.
"I'm going to be moving around to various watch parties in St. Louis. There's a number of them that are on the schedule. So I'm gonna hop around and try to see as many Missouri Obama supporters in St. Louis as I can this evening," McCaskill said on Thursday, the day of Obama's Charlotte speech.
McCaskill also stated the obvious, that regardless of where she, or Allen for that matter, decided to spend time during the convention, the opposition wasn't going to exactly give out a free pass.
"By the way, if I were in Charlotte, the Republicans would say, 'She doesn't care about Missouri,'" McCaskill said earlier in the week.
Route 50 is often described as the loneliest road in America, and with the media attention focused on Charlotte, it was an apt description of McCaskill's travels last week. Turn south off the highway about an hour outside Kansas City, drive another couple of miles, and you arrive in Warrensburg, home of the University of Central Missouri "Mules and Jennies" and host of one of McCaskill's "On Our Campus, On Our Side" events.
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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