A conservative group is attacking Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell over the fiscal cliff deal in a series of online advertisements in Kentucky that questions his loyalty to the GOP.
The ads were purchased by the Virginia-based group For America and began running Wednesday on the The Daily Caller, Drudge Report and Fox News websites, as well as on Facebook. It accuses McConnell of capitulating to President Obama and calls for conservatives to stand up to the party leader.
Brent Bozell is founder and chairman of For America. He says McConnell was the architect of a bad deal and that is playing “President Obama’s bag man.”
“There comes a point where as a conservative you just say you’ve had it. This was a quintessential tax and spend piece of legislation,” he says. “Conservatives have for decades labeled Democrats the party of tax and spend. How can you not label Republicans the same thing when they go along with it?”
McConnell fashioned the agreement with Vice President Joe Biden, which permanently extended the Bush-era tax rates for individuals making less than $400,000 and was praised by many conservative thinkers.
However, the deal delayed government spending cuts for another two months.
Last week, several Kentucky tea party leaders voiced their displeasure with McConnell’s deal with the White House and argued it hurts his chances at re-election.
On Sunday, McConnell made appearances on three different political talk shows to discuss the deal and make his pitch for the upcoming debt ceiling negotiations. The GOP leader pledged it would not include tax increases and that the revenue conversation was over.
McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton told WFPL that the Senator’s efforts helped avoid a tax increase on the vast majority of middle-class families, and he is leading the fight to rein in government spending.
“Senator McConnell won a victory to cut taxes for over 99 percent of Americans, and will now help lead the fight to rein in spending and reform our broken entitlement system,” says Benton. “Hopefully, all of our friends will get behind these efforts and stand up for our country.”
But Bozell says McConnell has lost sight of his principles and backbone, adding his campaign is echoing the president’s talking points when it used the fiscal cliff agreement in a fundraising e-mail.
“That sounds just like the Obama administration,” says Bozell. “These are the same people who kept talking about when they would capture the majority in 2012. And we were scoffed at and I can tell you it’s going to happen again. If they continue playing these games they will not succeed in 2014.”
McConnell has tried to mend fences with his right-wing flank, and his supporters argue the For America release is a tiny ad buy to gain media attention. But according to Bozell, the frustration with McConnell is growing and could impact his re-election chances.
“I can’t speak for any other organization. What I can tell you is that I’ve spoken to the heads of many conservative organizations and there is outrage (at McConnell),” he says.
Before launching an ad campaign against McConnell, the group ForAmerica gave the GOP leader high marks in it political ratings.
On its “Freedom Meter,” which measures a lawmaker based on their votes, McConnell was scored at 95 percent for 2011-12. McConnell’s supporters point out that makes him among the groups highest rated Senators.
“As expected, Tea Party groups across the country are trying to influence Sen. McConnell’s re-election campaign,” says Louisville Young Republicans President James Young. “As a Republican, I respect their efforts and welcome them to join Sen. McConnell in his bid to make Washington a more friendly environment for conservatives everywhere.”