Important Week in the Kentucky Senate Race as New Matt Bevin Ad Hits Mitch McConnell

Feb 24, 2014 5:00am

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s primary opponent, Matt Bevin, is out with a new television ad today and it’s one anyone watching the race could have seen coming, hitting the Senate minority leader for his vote to move forward a bill to pass a year-long debt ceiling extension earlier this month.

ABC News got a sneak peek of the commercial, which has $30,000 behind it and will run on statewide cable in Kentucky. The ad begins with Bevin on camera before a narrator alleges, “Mitch McConnell betrayed conservatives to give Obama a blank check” over a photograph of McConnell and the president together.

The 15-second ad then shows Bevin again with the narrator saying, “Matt Bevin opposes raising the national debt. Period. The choice is clear. Conservative Republican Matt Bevin for U.S. Senate.”

Earlier this month, McConnell was forced to vote in favor of advancing the bill when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, required a 60-vote threshold in order for the legislation to move forward. That move forced McConnell and other Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas — who also has a primary opponent — to vote to advance the bill.

Twelve Republicans ultimately voted to advance the bill, but all Republicans voted against raising the debt limit itself in the high-drama vote.

McConnell defended his vote in an interview with ABC News’ Louisville affiliate WHAS-TV.

“I believe I have to act in the best interests of the country,” he said. “And every time we’ve been confronted with a potential crisis, the guy you’re looking at is the one who’s stepped up to solve the problem.”

McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore criticized the ad, calling Bevin, “A sad caricature of a failed challenger who is struggling to explain his bailouts, support for TARP, shady business dealings and resume falsification while flailing away with desperate attacks.”

Bevin has been under fire since a Politico report revealed earlier this month that while Bevin currently opposes the 2008 federal bailout of banks, in 2008 he supported the Troubled Asset Relief Program or TARP, something McConnell voted for and Bevin has consistently attacked him for on the campaign trail.

Bevin and McConnell face off in May and whoever wins will take on the Democratic candidate, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, in November. Polls still show McConnell with a wide lead against Bevin, but polls are much tighter between McConnell and Grimes.

It’s an important week in the Kentucky senate race as Grimes is having quite a high profile guest in Louisville. On Tuesday, Grimes will campaign with former President Bill Clinton, who is making one of his first forays onto the 2014 campaign trail.

Clinton is a friend of Grimes’ father, prominent Kentucky Democrat and party donor Jerry Lundergan. Clinton advised Grimes before she made the decision to jump into the race, and he has already appeared in a video promoting her candidacy that ran at her official campaign kickoff over the summer.

Clinton will also hold a fundraiser for Grimes while he is in town; according to a Grimes aide tickets will range from $100 to $5,200.

ABC News’ Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.

This story has been updated since it was first posted.

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