ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
On the same day that Kentucky Senate candidate Jack Conway is facing blowback from some liberals for running an ad that raises questions about his opponent’s religious values, a progressive group is giving the Democratic state attorney general top billing in a campaign to hit Republicans on the issue of Social Security.
Conway is the public face of a new push led by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee that is targeting GOP candidates who support privatizing or cutting Social Security.
“Rand Paul, the Tea Party leader running against me for Senate in Kentucky, thinks Social Security is unconstitutional,” Conway says in a letter to supporters of the progressive group. “With a Tea Party deep on the fringe, the way for Democrats to win in 2010 is to have a spine — and go on offense.”
Joining Conway are some 200 other Democratic House and Senate candidates who have signed on to a pledge rejecting any effort to privatize or scale back Social Security benefits or raise the retirement age.
In an interview with ABC News, Conway said that Social Security represented an “area of stark contrast in the race.” During the course of the campaign, Paul has suggested raising the retirement age and Conway has alleged his opponent believes Social Security is unconstitutional.
It’s a claim that Paul denied as recently as Sunday night: “I've never challenged it and I do not challenge the constitutionality of it,” Paul said at a debate between the two candidates.
Sunday’s debate grew even more heated when Paul attacked Conway for airing an ad accusing the GOP contender of joining a college group “known for mocking Christianity” and of mistreating a woman years ago. Conway defended the ad, saying that it was not meant to question Paul’s faith or character but rather his actions.
“I asked a question and he didn’t like it,” Conway said.
But on Monday some left-leaning commentators and fellow Democrats criticized the Senate hopeful’s decision to run the spot.
Even so, the PCCC-led Social Security push that Conway is backing appears to be gaining traction. During the day, more than 10,000 people went to a Web site set up by the PCCC – SocialSecurityProtectors.com — and signed a statement supporting Conway and the 200 other lawmakers and candidates who took the Social Security pledge.
PCCC co-founder Adam Green said the multi-candidate efforts was a way to “model good behavior for the national Democratic Party leadership."
“We’re showing them what fighting looks like,” Green said in an interview on Monday. “We try to encourage Democrats to pick fights on issues where the public is clearly on their side.”