Wednesday, May 21, 2014

First general-election ads: McConnell allies target Grimes' Hollywood money, she decries Washington

Alison Lundergan Grimes appeals to populist, anti-Washington feelings, and Mitch McConnell's allies target Hollywood money and President Obama, in the first pair of dueling television commercials in Kentucky's general election for the U.S. Senate.

"This is a frustrating time in our country," Grimes says in her one-minute ad. "The economy is still struggling, people are working harder for less, and here in Kentucky, we feel it more than most," a reference to the state's higher-than-average unemployment, driven partly by coal layoffs.

"And it seems no matter how many elections we have, nothing gets better in Washington, it only gets worse," Grimes continues, then implicitly criticizes both Obama and McConnell: "A lot of that is because of the people at the top in both political parties. If we keep sending them back, nothing will change."

Grimes says "We need a senator who puts partisanship aside . . . and no matter who the president is, I won't answer to them, I'll only answer to you." If she is subtly reminding voters that a new president will be elected in 2016, it's likely that she will later remind them that Obama will have only two years to serve when the next Congress begins, and the senator elected this fall will have six.

Grimes' closing line is that Washington "should put the good of our people ahead of the bad that comes from acting petty and small. We've had too much of that for too long." Sounds like she has some polling that shows some persuadable voters apply those adjectives to McConnell.

The 30-second ad from Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a so-called "super PAC," or politivcal action committee, combines narration, still photos and quotes from news stories to make the case that Grimes is the candidate of President Obama and "liberals coast to coast," including "Hollywood's most liberal political activists." Barbra Streisand and the controversial Woody Allen are among those pictured.

A female narrator says, "Michelle Obama let the truth slip out at a New York City fundraiser, calling Grimes' election critical to President Obama's liberal agenda that's hurting Kentucky." A quote from a news story says "Obama's . . . plan aims straight at coal." The missing words are "climate plan," referring to Obama's proposals to limit greenhouse gases that cause global warming and climate change, measures that threaten the already weak Central Appalachian coal industry.

Grimes says she is pro-coal, but the narrator concludes, "Where's Alison Grimes on the issues? Just look at her friends."

Similar advertising before the primary appears to have affected Grimes's vote in the state's two coalfields. In percentage terms, her 28 worst counties all produce coal, or have recently produced it, and five of the other eight coal counties gave her a smaller share of the vote than her unofficial statewide figure of 76.47 percent.

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