Bevin hits McConnell on guns, earmarks in ads

Matt Bevin, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) primary challenger, launched two new, notably short TV ads hitting the Senate minority leader on guns and earmarks.

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The topics are a somewhat surprising choice for the challenger. He and national conservative groups have made considerably more noise about ObamaCare during the primary, and McConnell just last week voted to raise the debt limit in what was seen as a move tailor-made for an attack ad.

But instead of those hot-button issues, Bevin released two notably short spots citing years-old votes McConnell made for earmarks and a bill that sought to ban certain types of weapons.

“Mitch McConnell voted for billions in earmarks, including the ‘bridge to nowhere,’ ” one ad declares, citing his vote on an infrastructure funding bill in 2005.

The other ad states, “Mitch McConnell voted with Harry Reid to infringe on our gun rights,” using his vote for a crime-reduction bill from 1991 as evidence.

In both, the narrator contrasts Bevin’s position, noting he’s opposed to “wasteful earmarks” and “always supports the Second Amendment.

McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore called the ads "a very sad and transparently desperate attempt to keep the doors open at Matt Bevin's headquarters."

Bevin has faced questions in recent weeks over a report, signed by him and issued by his former investment firm while he was president, that praised the government bailout of Wall Street, a program for which he has criticized and attacked McConnell. Bevin has given an inconsistent explanation of how his name ended up on the report but denied writing it and has said he didn't agree with its contents.

Moore suggested the incident has left an impact on his credibility in the race, extending to his attack ads.

"This is a man whose credibility has been so decimated over the last week that nobody in Kentucky believes his name on the disclaimer, let alone the content of his attacks," she said.

The ads run only half as long as the typical 30-second spots candidates air on television, but at 15 seconds, they’re both cheaper to make and to air — an indication Bevin might be strapped for cash, or at least trying to preserve his resources.

McConnell is favored to win his primary and expected to face Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election, in what observers agree could be the toughest reelection fight he's faced in his decadeslong career.