, Corbin, KY


July 10, 2014

Ad wars: McConnell takes shot at Grimes

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

The ad wars and claims of false attacks in Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race continued Wednesday with an ad by incumbent Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign answering one released Tuesday by his opponent, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The McConnell ad characterizes as “laughable” the Grimes ad which features a retired coal miner questioning McConnell for a vote the retired miner says would have increased his Medicare costs by $6,000.

That’s a reference to a bill sponsored by U.S. House budget chairman Paul Ryan which passed the Republican-controlled House but did not survive a procedural vote in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate. McConnell only voted to hear the bill but was on the losing side of the vote.

Ryan’s measure would have cut benefits for future retirees but exempted those nearing retirement and current retirees, presumably including Don Disney, the retired miner in Grimes’ ad.

McConnell’s ad calls Grimes “Obama’s Kentucky candidate.” Obviously, Obama would prefer a Democratic senator to a Republican and nearly any alternative to McConnell who once vowed to make him a one-term president.

But McConnell’s ad takes liberties too.

It quotes an Associated Press story which called some of the Medicare claims in the Grimes ad “shaky.” But it also cites a June 20, 2014 Washington Post story calling some Medicare claims in an ad “laughable.” But that story appears to be about an ad in a West Virginia congressional race. (

The McConnell ad says “Grimes supports Obamacare which cuts $700 billion from seniors’ Medicare.” The Affordable Care Act – Obamacare to critics – reduces some payments to medical providers over a 10-year period. It does not reduce benefits to senior recipients.

McConnell’s campaign responded to the Grimes’ ad on Tuesday by saying, “McConnell has fought to protect Medicare, while Alison Lundergan Grimes and her political benefactors have raided it by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare.”

Grimes was not in the Senate at the time of the vote on the ACA and could not have voted for or against the bill. Whether McConnell has “fought to protect Medicare” is subject to interpretation.

He has repeatedly said the only way to rein in federal spending and deficits is to address entitlements (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) which account for roughly two-thirds of federal spending. He also opposes tax increases, meaning the only way to control spiraling entitlement costs would be to reduce spending.

But without some reform, McConnell and many others say, the programs are doomed to insolvency – so one can argue reducing spending on benefits or increasing the retirement age in order to maintain solvency “protects” the continued existence of the programs for future retirees.

The McConnell ad ends by returning to his strategy of equating Grimes with Obama: “Obama needs Grimes and Kentucky needs McConnell.”


RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at

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