The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF), a national conservative group backing Sen. Mitch McConnell’s primary opponent, is going on offense against the incumbent with a new ad that charges he’s a “bully.”
The report quickly caught fire in conservative circles and reportedly raised questions for some Kentucky Tea Party activists about Bevin’s candidacy, though Bevin maintains that he had no hand in writing the documents from his investment firm that spoke favorably of the program, even though he signed them.
But the SCF has been out defending Bevin since the news report emerged, and this new ad is an indication the group's support of their candidate won’t waver.
The SCF is putting $100,000 behind the new video to run it online and to targeted conservative TV audiences, and will blast it out to the group’s 1 million members nationwide, according to SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins.
The ad compares McConnell to former IRS official Lois Lerner, who resigned after reports revealed the IRS had inappropriately targeted both liberal and conservative advocacy groups for extra review.
Those developments have become a hot-button issue for conservatives, and McConnell just this week introduced new legislation to increase scrutiny of the IRS, in part a move to win him some applause from conservative circles.
The senator is considered more vulnerable than he’s ever been in his nearly three decades in the Senate and has taken steps in recent years to shore up support on his right flank, but he was ultimately unable to stave off a primary fight. That fight has drawn attention and resources away from what’s likely to be another difficult battle in the general election against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, if McConnell wins the nomination, as is expected.
“Bullying. Threats. Intimidation,” the narrator reads as Lerner appears on the screen. “The IRS? No. Try Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican Leader. That’s right. Mitch McConnell is trying to bully and intimidate conservatives just like the IRS is.”
The narrator charges McConnell is trying to “silence conservatives” and that he “tried to intimidate conservative Matt Bevin to stop him from running ... because he is desperate” a reference to both reports that McConnell’s team tried to dissuade Bevin out of the race and to the new report that emerged Tuesday.
“McConnell is unpopular in Kentucky because he doesn't stand for anything. His ideology is power,” the ad charges.
The video goes on to hit every conservative point against McConnell, noting he opposed the government shutdown tactic to defund ObamaCare, voted to raise the debt limit and suggested McConnell couldn’t win against Lundergan Grimes in the general election. Polling has shown the Democrat tied or, most recently, slightly leading McConnell in Kentucky, while Bevin has consistently lagged behind her but kept the margin slim.
In response to the new ad, McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore referenced the Tuesday news that Bevin might have supported the financial bailout.
“They found out yesterday that their endorsed candidate is significantly to the left of Sen. McConnell on virtually every issue, so we don’t blame them for acting irrationally,” Moore said.
She went on to repeat a common criticism lobbed by establishment conservatives against the SCF: that the group is only in the fight for the money.
“Actual conservatives would realize they made a mistake by endorsing Matt Bevin, when it was revealed that he’s a con-man, but this group has money to make,” Moore said.