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Campaign ad watch: Attack ads dominate another busy week

NBC News' weekly round up of top campaign ads.
by Ben Kamisar /

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WASHINGTON — The war on the air waves is getting heated, fast, as campaigns and outside groups look to land a blow that can resonate with voters that are starting to pay more attention with Election Day just over seven weeks away.

Each week, the NBC News political unit will highlight a handful of the most recent TV ads that caught our eyes. Check out the YouTube playlist of this week's ads here, and read on for more on each spot.

Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee Senate

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn knows that her Democratic opponent, former Gov. Phil Bredesen, needs a bipartisan coalition to win a conservative state like Tennessee. And he's been trying hard to remind voters of his past stint as governor, when he cruised to reelection in 2006.

But Blackburn is striking back by taking aim directly at those voters who voted for Bredesen in the past. Her new spot argues that liberal policies, and support for "Crooked Hillary" should disqualify him in the minds of voters.

NRCC in Michigan 08 and Arizona 02

The National Republican Congressional Committee publicly released a dozen campaign ads on Wednesday, all attacking Democrats in key districts. But the group didn't publicly advertise it was releasing two other ads that used the words of the late Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain to attack Michigan Democrat Elissa Slotkin and Arizona Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick

McCain's family put out a statement condemning the decision to "weaponize" McCain's words, and the NRCC said in a statement that the "ad speaks for itself."

Ted Cruz in Texas Senate

The Texas Republican has sought to weaponize the recent viral comments by his opponent, Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke, about NFL protests throughout social media. But now he's putting the attack up on the airwaves, complete with commentary from a man who lost his legs on the battlefield.

Joe Manchin in West Virginia Senate

Manchin's new ad is a call-back to his 2010 ad where he shot the Cap and Trade bill to express his frustrations with the legislation. In an ad that underscores the conservative backdrop of his Senate race against Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Manchin this time fires at the Trump administration's lawsuit challenging portions of the Affordable Care Act, a challenge supported by Morrisey.

Mac Schneider in North Dakota At-Large

Using your kids in an ad is always a risk in a campaign ad, but the North Dakota Democrat is out with this lighthearted ad that features his daughter joking about how Congress likes to "fight like little kids."

NRCC and Antonio Delgado in New York 19

Two new ads in this upstate New York district exemplify the differing strategies taken by Republican outside groups and Delgado's campaign in the battle for the seat currently held by GOP Rep. John Faso.

The NRCC spot is yet another that's focused solely on Delgado's rap career, mixing optimistic quotes from a Delgado campaign ad with some profane clips of him rapping. While Faso's campaign is only releasing television ads touting his work on local issues, every single ad from a GOP outside group centers on his rap career.

And the Delgado spot is one of a handful his campaign is running that talks primarily about health care, the big issue for Democrats this cycle.

Elissa Slotkin in Michigan 08

Slotkin's new ad is yet another example of how Democrats have made health care the number one issue among their candidates. This new spot is a long one, a 60 second spot, that shares her mother's struggle with cancer after she lost her health care. The spot includes emotional footage of her mother speaking at her wedding before she died.

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