Tillis links Hagan to Obama in first ad

North Carolina House Speaker Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Overnight Defense: Over 500 amendments proposed for defense bill | Measures address transgender troops, Yemen war | Trump taps acting VA chief as permanent secretary Trump to nominate acting VA secretary to lead department MORE (R) is attacking Sen. Kay HaganKay Ruthven Hagan2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation Politics is purple in North Carolina MORE (D-N.C.) as a lackey for President Obama in his first television ad, while playing up his own business credentials instead of his legislative experience.

"Kay Hagan enabled President Obama's worst ideas. She refuses to clean up his mess, so you and I have to clean up hers," Tillis says in the spot.

Polling shows Obama's weakened position could hurt Hagan in the state. An early December automated poll by the North Carolina-based Democratic firm Public Policy Polling found his approval rating had dropped to 44 percent, with 55 percent disapproving. In that poll, Hagan had a narrow 2-point lead on Tillis, who was unknown by most voters.

Hagan's support of ObamaCare has been a focus of the attacks against her. Tillis joins in, ripping the law as a "disaster" and knocking politicians of both parties for failing to rein in the national debt.

Tillis is the front-runner for the GOP nomination and has the backing of many national Republicans. But he's facing two conservative primary challengers: Mark Harris and Greg Brannon.

Tillis doesn't mention his role as House Speaker in the ad, instead appearing in a boardroom and talking of his private sector experience. The ad's tagline reiterates that theme, pegging him as a "Businessman. Conservative."

"Thom Tillis must have gotten a new version of history for Christmas since his ad talks big game about accountability but fails to mention the pay-to-play and special interest scandals in his closet," Hagan spokeswoman Sadie Weiner shot back. "Kay has always been accountable to North Carolina families, proving she can stand up to members of both parties when the state's best interests were on the line, but Tillis has never shown that type of leadership, especially when it comes to his special interest backers."

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