Politics

Democratic Senate candidate Jim Gray launched a TV commercial attacking Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s foreign policy record about a month before Election Day.

Gray’s ad features clips of high profile Republicans talking about Paul during his failed presidential run, which ended early this year.

In the ad, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Arizona Sen. John McCain, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly criticize Paul’s foreign policy record while text displays on the screen criticizing Paul of proposing to cut defense spending by 30 percent and opposing the Patriot Act.

Cathy Lindsey, Gray’s spokesperson, said the campaign has spent $325,000 to air the commercial across the state on broadcast and cable stations.

“Rand Paul is a jaw flapper who has spent six years in Washington doing two things, running his mouth and running for President (he failed at both),” said Lindsey said in a statement. “Kentuckians deserve better than a senator who is willing to weaken America’s National Security just to promote himself. Paul asks for attention while running for President, but continues to ignore Kentuckians at home.”

Paul is at the end of his first six-year term in the Senate. Gray was elected to a second term as the mayor of Lexington in 2014.

Kelsey Cooper, communications director for Paul’s campaign, said the claims in the ad were false and that Gray is a “desperate, typical politician.”

“Dr. Rand Paul stands for a strong national defense and actually proposed an increase in defense spending,” Cooper said. “He has always said that national security is the most important function of our federal government, and he will continue defending Kentucky, our nation, and our liberties.”

According to Politifact, Paul’s 2011 budget proposal would have reduced defense spending by about 23 percent compared to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates.

However, Politifact said that Paul’s budget proposal from 2013 amounted to an increase in year-over-year defense spending compared to caps set by the “sequester,” which cut non-war defense spending.

Paul does oppose the Patriot Act, which allows the federal government to conduct roving wiretaps and search private business records.

Paul rose to national prominence early in the presidential race on a platform that included reducing national spending, staying out of foreign crises and curtailing government surveillance. His more isolationist stances fell out of favor over the course of 2015 after the rise of ISIS, the ongoing civil war in Syria and the San Bernardino shootings.

Gray’s commercial is the first negative ad to come directly from the candidates this campaign. A super PAC that supports Paul has aired an ad tying Gray to Hillary Clinton over the past months.

An organization that supports Gray released an ad Tuesday criticizing Paul for having a $300,000 campaign debt.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.