Wendy Long, the Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, went on the attack against the incumbent earlier this week over the senator’s Off the Sidelines web site, which Long called a “deception” and “a big scam.”
The web site, OfftheSidelines.org, portrays itself as an avenue to get women “off the sidelines” and involved in their communities, whether it’s “in the classroom, the boardroom, Congress or at home.”
The senator came under scrutiny a year ago when The Buffalo News reported that the site didn’t make it clear that contributions were going to Gillibrand’s re-election campaign, not to promote other women. The campaign updated the site to clarify that it was a Gillibrand project and that donations were going to the senator, who has since taken other steps to aid women.
But in appearance on MSNBC on Monday, Gillibrand portrayed the Off the Sidelines effort as a way to promote all women, both Democrats and Republicans.
“As I understand it, she made some adjustments in response to that scoop by The Buffalo News, but it appears that the problem still exists and it was only amplified by her appearance on MSNBC when she said that the Off the Sidelines effort is an effort to get women of all political stripes off the sidelines and into politics,” Long said at a campaign stop in Buffalo yesterday.
The Weekly Standard, a conservative news outlet, wrote a blog post criticizing the Off the Sidelines web site after Gillibrand’s remarks tied it to efforts to help women in both parties, and the New York State Republican Committee called on Gillibrand to “name the Republican women that her organization helps,” a question Long repeated on the campaign trail.
Gillibrand’s campaign declined to comment other than to dismiss Long’s criticism.
“I’m not going to comment on a clear distortion of reality and the facts,” said Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Gillibrand.
On MSNBC’s NOW with Alex Wagner on Monday, Gillibrand called for more women to run for office, and said Off the Sidelines was working to help them do just that.
“I’ve been doing it nationwide, trying to get more women, Democrats, Republicans, all women, to again, hold their elected leaders accountable, vote, and hopefully run for office,” Gillibrand said. “They just need to be asked.”
Long, who is trailing Gillibrand by 43 points in a recent poll, said she hadn’t heard of any Republicans that the incumbent has helped get off the sidelines.
“Indeed, one would think given her passion for women in politics that she might have gotten all excited about my being in the race,” Long said. “That for the first time in the history of the State of New York we have a woman running against a woman for the United States Senate.”
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