McCaskill: Not skipping Dem convention because of Obama

When pressed on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on whether her decision to stay in Missouri during the convention was related at all to Obama’s popularity in the GOP-trending state, as some Republicans have argued, McCaskill said, "absolutely not."

"I've asked the president to come campaign in Missouri," she said.

McCaskill, who is facing a tough reelection fight, has been hit with an onslaught of ads in her home state, funded by outside spending groups that have made her seat a top GOP target and attempted to tie her to Obama's policies.

McCaskill, who was a major surrogate for then-candidate Obama in 2008, argued that Republicans were manufacturing a story and said if she had chosen to attend the convention, GOP operatives would have portrayed her as abandoning Missouri.

"Everyone's trying to make this a big deal and narrative. It's just stupid," she said.

The Republican National Committee (RNC) sent out an e-mail statement Tuesday accusing McCaskill of declining to participate in the convention because she didn't want to appear with the president.

"After being a top Obama surrogate, a primetime speaker at the 2008 Dem National Convention, and doing a 2008 video saying Missouri needs to elect Barack, Senator Claire McCaskill announced today she will not attend this year’s convention proving even Barack Obama’s best friends don’t want to be seen with him as his party nominates him to run for a second term," said RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski in an emailed statement.

Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney's campaign also used participation in the convention as a litmus test for support of the president, blasting McCaskill and other lawmakers for "jumping ship."

“Last month, President Obama’s fellow Democrats deserted his shameful attacks on free enterprise. Now, with the President doubling down on his misleading attacks, even more Democrats are jumping ship — this time from the President’s own Democratic convention,” said Romney Campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul in a statement Wednesday.

McCaskill on Wednesday though stuck with her decision, saying she had long before established a precedent for forgoing her party’s nominating event. "Actually, I've never gone when I've had a contested race,” she said.

“I think you got to say to people at home which is more important — going to a place with a bunch of party honchos and having cocktail parties or being at home talking to them," she added. "This has never been a hard call for me."

McCaskill also said that the late timing of the convention in September led to her decision.

She told MSNBC that although candidates often raise money from donors at the conventions, it was too close to the election to make a significant impact on her campaign.

"I'm going to be spending much more time talking to Missourians in September and October than talking to donors," McCaskill said.