, Corbin, KY


July 9, 2014

Grimes releases ad critical of McConnell

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis / CNHI News Service

Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes Tuesday aired her first ad criticizing her opponent, Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.

The ad shows Grimes seated beside retired coal miner Don Disney from Cloverlick, who looks into the camera and asks McConnell: “How could you have voted to raise my Medicare costs by $6,000? How are my wife and I supposed to afford that?”

His question apparently is a reference to a Senate vote McConnell cast in favor of a budget plan authored by Republican House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, which included cuts to Medicare. The measure failed in the Senate.

After a long pause following Disney’s question — a dog can be heard barking in the background — Grimes says: “I don’t think he’s going to answer that. I approved this message because I’ll work to strengthen Medicare, not bankrupt seniors like Don.”

McConnell’s campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore responded by saying Grimes is “hitting the panic button.”

“It says a lot about the candidacy of Alison Lundergan Grimes that she’s a full four months away from the election and she already hit the panic button by resorting to the oldest, most cynical attack in the Obama playbook to scare Kentucky seniors,” Moore said. “The simple reality is that Sen. McConnell has fought to protect Medicare, while Alison Lundergan Grimes and her political benefactors have raided it by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare.”

Medicare — like Social Security — is often an issue raised by both parties in federal election years because the programs are so popular and seniors vote more reliably in off-year elections than other demographic groups. But both sides bend the facts a bit.

McConnell’s vote on the Ryan budget was a procedural vote to proceed with debate. The Republican budget never had any chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Republicans accuse Democrats of “raiding Medicare to fund Obamacare,” implying the cuts directly affect seniors. But the reductions are changes in the way providers are reimbursed, including lower payments for ineffective services such as frequent patient re-admissions.

The Grimes ad evokes an effective ad Grimes ran in her 2011 race for Kentucky Secretary of State which starred her two grandmothers. The new Senate ad uses the same music from the earlier ad and has a similar air of light humor — something for which McConnell’s advertising is also known.

Humor in political advertising is used to attract attention but also to insulate the candidate from a negative blowback reaction from voters.

Grimes’ ad wasn’t the only one to go up Tuesday. The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a super PAC supporting McConnell and advised by former McConnell aide Scott Jennings, began airing a spot which asks “who is Alison Grimes and where does she stand on the issues?”

After the announcer asks what people know about Grimes, the ad quotes multiple media reports about Grimes declining to answer, or fully answer, reporters’ questions. Then the announcer asks: “What’s she hiding?”

The McConnell campaign has persistently criticized Grimes for not answering questions about issues McConnell wants to make the race about, and Grimes has, indeed, frequently avoided direct answers on some of those issues.

But McConnell also frequently disregards reporters’ questions on subjects he doesn’t wish to discuss.

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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