There’s a new twist in Mitch McConnell’s campaign (which has yet to draw an opponent). A liberal nonprofit group is airing an ad attacking the Senate Minority Leader that uses footage that appears to be from an Al Qaeda recruitment video.
Americans United For Change will spend $5,000 to air the spot, titled “Bad Company,” in Lexington, according to spokesperson Lauren Weiner. The ad uses a video showing Adam Yahiye Gadahn, an American Al Qaeda spokesperson, explaining how to buy guns in the United States.
“Most Kentucky residents want background checks for gun sales, but Republican leader Mitch McConnell is against them. So who does agree with Mitch?” a narrator asks in the spot, citing a poll from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control advocacy group, Mayor Against Illegal Guns, which shows 82 percent of Kentucky residents favor mandatory background checks for gun buyers.
Then California-born Gadahn is heard saying in a clip: ”You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”
The ad urges viewers to call the Kentucky senator and “ask him why he’s in such bad company.”
McConnell is likely to continue to be targeted on gun control, but his opposition could help him in conservative Kentucky, as well as possibly ward off rumblings of a Tea Party challenger from the right. The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to overcome a filibuster against tougher gun control measures, led by a group of Republicans that included McConnell. That cleared the way for debate around a package of gun control proposals, including universal background checks.
Americans United For Change says the ad will run during the evening news and during all three of the Sunday shows, as well as a spot right after the Masters on Sunday evening.
Tom McMahon, executive director of Americans United for Change, said in a statement that McConnell’s position is “a slap to the face to all families whose loved ones were taken away by gun violence.”
“What should give Sen. McConnell and fellow Republicans who oppose broader background checks great pause is that their position is so unpopular that virtually the only people who agree with them are big gun manufacturers, criminals, and terrorists. Talk about bad company,” McMahon said in a statement.
McConnell’s campaign manager Jesse Benton quickly responded to the ad calling Americans United for Change “rabid partisan extremists” who “have no interest in promoting what’s right for Kentucky and they’ll stop at nothing to attack its biggest advocate.”
Benton then linked the group to Progress Kentucky, a Democratic superPAC that is alleged to have recorded a McConnell campaign strategy session that was leaked this week. The group did send out tweets in February attacking McConnell’s wife former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and her ethnicity.
Currently, McConnell has no opponent, but he is in the position of being able to try and frame the different attacks as a liberal conspiracy out to get him. If he’s successful at it, an ad like this could backfire for the group.
“The political left has proven they’ll stop at nothing to target people who disagree with them. Racist attacks on Mitch’s family, illegal bugging, and connecting him with terrorists won’t stop him from fighting for the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Kentuckians,” Benton said, adding about the attacks, “desperate and extreme would be an understatement. They are deplorable.”
An opponent to McConnell has yet to emerge. Actress Ashley Judd decided last month not to run, while Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is considering entering the race, but has yet to announce.