When a political attack ad crosses state lines should the same strategic logic be applied?
That’s what many Democrats are suggesting in reaction to a blog post by LEO Weekly, which found a Republican group’s TV spot that could run in the Kentucky or Arkansas U.S. Senate race.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee released a spot slamming Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas for being a “liberal” clothed as a moderate.
Among the issues the NRSC calls Pryor out on are six “debt ceiling” votes that the GOP group highlights, including the Wall Street bailout.
Asked if those criticisms of Sen. Pryor being “liberal” could also apply to the GOP leader, the NRSC defended McConnell’s fiscal voting record.
“Mitch McConnell personally fought and succeeded in getting $2.1 trillion in spending cuts attached to the last debt limit increase, while liberal Senators like Mark Pryor were simply trying to give President Obama a blank check,” NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring told WFPL. “In fact, before Mitch McConnell took on President Obama to make sure that any increase in the debt limit was accompanied by spending cuts and reforms, Washington had previously just increased the debt limit blindly.”
Dayspring went further, adding: “It is because of conservatives like Mitch McConnell that now before any increase in debt limit by the Obama administration, there is a worthy debate about cutting spending and additional reforms to lower the deficit and debt.”
GOP operatives argue in part this is political gamesmanship, that national Democrats who support would-be McConnell challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes do the same thing. And many have criticized Republican incumbents and challengers for taking positions and votes that Democratic lawmakers in more conservative-learning state have also supported.
In 2011, for instance, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee attacked a number of Republican senators who support oil subsidies, calling it a “love affair with Big Oil.” Democrats such as Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Mark Begich of Alaska voted with Republicans against the president’s call for repealing those tax breaks.
Senate races are not necessarily connected to each other and are decided by voters in states with different priorities. What may be a winning narrative for Democrats or Republicans in one state may have a reverse effect in another.
But it was McConnell’s re-election team that bragged about a “presidential-style” campaign in Kentucky and with that comes a connection to the large national narrative. And some conservative activists are eager to spotlight that NRSC ad as a way to further back McConnell’s GOP primary opponent Matt Bevin, whose campaign embraced the spot.
“We agree 100 percent with the NRSC that we don’t need liberal, big-government senators like Mark Pryor or Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate,” says Bevin campaign spokeswoman Sarah Durand. “We need strong conservatives in the Senate like Matt Bevin who will fight for taxpayers when Congressional leaders—be they Republicans or Democrats—try to push liberal policies through.”