IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

McConnell targeted in Bluegrass State

Seven Kentucky Democrats are vying to take on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in November, while Evan Bayh touts the New York Senator's toughness and ability to protect jobs in Indiana.
Image: McConnell campaign
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., center — who has no party competition but a crowd of Democratic rivals hoping to take his congressional seat this fall — has already launched campaign ads.McConnell campaign
/ Source: National Journal

Seven Kentucky Democrats are vying to take on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in November, but one in particular -- businessman Bruce Lunsford -- is already pulling away from the pack. Besides securing several weighty endorsements and enjoying a large advantage in early polling, Lunsford became the first Democrat to release TV ads, launching a new spot statewide on Friday.

Lunsford seems to be looking past his primary opponents and targeting McConnell in "Bottom Line," which combines biographical elements with a populist message: Washington is doing nothing as working-class Americans struggle to make ends meet. "Families have it tough these days," Lunsford claims. "It's discouraging to see hard-working families lose their jobs and their homes."

Taking a page from the "change" message that's been so popular at the top of his party's ticket, Lunsford asserts that "We can sit back, or we can fight. ... It’s time to change Washington." McConnell's name is not mentioned in the spot, but the implication is clear: The minority leader is part of the problem, not the solution.

Although McConnell faces no primary challenger, the GOP leader has been running TV ads since last November, and his campaign on Monday released a new spot highlighting his efforts to help workers at a Paducah plant who fell ill on the job. "Without a doubt, Senator McConnell has saved people's lives," factory worker Fred Buckley says in the spot.

Whoever wins the May 20 Democratic primary, he will face an uphill battle in the general election. McConnell's campaign recently reported having $7 million on hand and shows no sign of losing its early lead in advertising.

Indiana job protection

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., and Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., campaign at Anderson High School in Anderson, Ind., Thursday, March 20, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)Charles Dharapak / AP

opened another front in the ad war today, joining rival on the air in Indiana with a new TV spot featuring the endorsement of Evan Bayh, the state's junior senator and a frequently mentioned candidate to be Clinton's running mate.

In the ad, which consists almost entirely of Bayh speaking directly into the camera, the Indiana senator touts Clinton's toughness, particularly on the economy, and runs through a number of her campaign's key message points.

"We need a leader who'll fight for good jobs, change trade deals like NAFTA, cut taxes for middle-class families," he says. "Someone who's ready to be commander in chief from Day One." Bayh also notes the two decades he's known Clinton -- a personal touch that validates his judgment of Clinton's character while recalling her argument that she is the most experienced Democrat in the presidential race.

Clinton has used a similar advertising strategy in previous contests. Her campaign ran an ad before the Ohio primary featuring the endorsement of former Sen. John Glenn. But the newest spot's no-frills approach and praise for Clinton's "spine of steel" recalls a ad from December called "Backbone Of Steel", in which major league pitcher Curt Schilling endorsed the Arizona senator.