McConnell goes back to Paducah plant to make influence argument in first 2014 ads

01/22/2014 11:32 AM

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell is starting his ad campaign in 2014 with a familiar theme and face.

McConnell, who is seeking his sixth term in the U.S. Senate, made a six-figure ad buy across Kentucky with an ad called “Cares” that features Robert Pierce, a former worker at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Pierce was diagnosed with cancer after being exposed to radiation at the facility, which is now closing. McConnell also featured Pierce in a similar ad during his re-election run in 2008.

“He knocked down walls for us. He helped save peoples’ lives,” Pierce says in the ad.

Since July, McConnell has framed his re-election on two themes: issues and influence. He has tried to position himself as more educated on the issues in Washington and a voice of influence as the Senate minority leader.

McConnell faces a primary challenge from Republican businessman Matt Bevin, and the leading Democratic candidate — Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes — has ramped up her campaign against McConnell. Both Grimes and Bevin have made arguments that McConnell has failed to use his influence to help Kentuckians, although Bevin and Grimes disagree over what they would have liked to have seen McConnell do.

Essentially, Grimes and Bevin have both asked voters versions of the question, “What has that influence gotten Kentucky?” — a question McConnell’s camp is attempting to answer with ads like “Cares.”

The Grimes campaign immediately issued a statement aimed at deflating the effect of the ad, noting that McConnell had used Pierce in commercials before.

And the Grimes response leans heavily on a July 11, 2013, article by the Huffington Post’s Jason Cherkis and Zach Carter that focused on the intersection of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and McConnell’s influence. In fact, all eight points of background referenced in the Grimes response statement came from the Huffington Post’s article.

“It is no surprise Mitch McConnell has to recycle old TV ads given that he offers no new ideas. It is insulting to Kentuckians for McConnell to haul out this old, dishonest play every six years when he’s on the ballot,” Grimes campaign spokeswoman Charly Norton said in the release.

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