McConnell's 1st ad pokes fun at Ky Dems search for challenger


by Joe Arnold

Posted on February 19, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 5 at 11:44 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- The campaign to elect Mitch McConnell to a sixth term in the U.S. Senate is beginning similarly to his first campaign in 1984, with humor.

The McConnell campaign is releasing a parody web ad it calls “Obama’s Kentucky Candidate," which uses video both of President Barack Obama and of potential senate candidates to poke fun at the search by Kentucky Democrats for a challenger versus McConnell.

The video was released exclusively to WHAS11's Good Morning Kentuckiana on Tuesday morning. 

The campaign has launched a website "to track the recruiting process and the ultimate decision" and also plans paid targeted ads on some websites.
“We all know President Obama and his liberal allies in Washington have made Senator McConnell their number one target,” said Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager.  “We thought we would have a little fun with the problems they’ve been had finding someone to carry President Obama’s banner in Kentucky.”

Benton told WHAS11 the ad was not created in response to the recent buzz surrounding actress Ashley Judd's potential candidacy.  Judd was singled out in an attack ad video produced by the American Crossroads Super PAC.

The McConnell campaign video indicates the extent of the opposition research already conducted on potential challengers, particularly Judd and Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, who is pilloried for her self-promotion during campaign appearances.

Judd is seen in the video claiming both Tennessee and San Francisco as her home and a clip from a 2011 interview in which Judd says "I can never anticipate what is going to push me over the edge."

The context of Judd's original quote was an Associated Press interview in which she explained the transition she makes returning to America after visiting impoverished nations.

Obama fundraiser Matthew Barzun of Louisville, who has not ruled himself out of the Senate race, is seen in the video formally dressed in his former role as U.S. Ambassador to Sweden.

The only candidate besides McConnell to declare for the race, Democrat Ed Marksberry, is also featured. 

Seven Democrats who have ruled themselves out of the race are featured nonetheless: Governor Steve Beshear, Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Attorney General Jack Conway, Auditor Adam Edelen and former Auditor Crit Luallen.

McConnell's upstart campaign for U.S. Senate in 1984 famously and effectively deployed humor to undermine incumbent Democrat Dee Huddleston.  With the help of bloodhounds, an actor in McConnell's TV commercial searches for Huddleston while an announcer details missed U.S. Senate votes.

The bloodhounds ad is a celebrated chapter of McConnell's political career and can be viewed at a McConnell Center museum at the University of Louisville.

In early February, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) began airing $60,000 in attack ads, criticizing McConnell for opposing gun control legislation while receiving campaign donations from gun manufacturers.