Cochran, McDaniel supporters launch ad barrage for runoff's final week

Mississippi voters will encounter a trio of new campaign ads in the final week of the primary runoff battle between Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

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Citizens United and Senate Conservatives Action (SCA), the independent expenditure arm of the Senate Conservatives Fund, are both airing ads pushing McDaniel's candidacy. 

The Citizens United ad features former presidential contender and Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) touting McDaniel as having “the courage to fight for our values.”

“Ronald Reagan believed, as I do, that America’s best days are yet to come,” he says in the ad, and then declares that the country can overcome challenges facing Americans “by sending new conservative leaders to tackle them.”

The ad is backed by a $100,000 buy and will run through Election Day on broadcast and cable TV statewide.

The SCA ad intersperses Mississippians calling McDaniel “fresh leadership” and “the right man, at the right time,” interspersed with clips of the candidate speaking on the campaign trail.

Of Cochran, an ad declares, “If you haven’t gotten the job done in 41 years, you’re not going to get it done in 6 more."

That ad will also run on broadcast television statewide through the election and is backed by a $210,000 buy.

It’s an implicit way to hit at an issue that has cropped up in recent weeks on the campaign trail: Cochran’s age. The 76-year-old raised some eyebrows last week after seeming confused about House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) stunning primary loss, the day after he had clearly answered questions about it.

Other media reports outlining similar situations have caused some of Cochran’s detractors to question whether his age might be impacting his ability to serve in the Senate. 

The age issue is not one McDaniel’s supporters can make blatant, however, as they risk backlash if they do so. Instead, as with the SCA ad, they mention his long tenure in the Senate and tout McDaniel as a fresh start.

But Cochran’s team is hitting back with their own ad that features clips of McDaniel’s controversial, racially charged comments from his time as a conservative talk-radio host.

“It’s so interesting to see this woman, basically using her boobies … using her breasts to run for office,” McDaniel says in one clip, with the word “boobies” censored in the ad.

The ad concludes with McDaniel characterizing the libertarian platform as “a free hooker and blow for everybody,” with “hooker” censored.

“Chris McDaniel, you are done,” a narrator says at the end.

It’s not the first time Cochran’s supporters have used McDaniel’s comments in an attack ad. They featured clips from his show prominently in a talking mailer sent out by a pro-Cochran super-PAC before the primary.

Then, however, they weren’t enough to put Cochran over the top. The two are locked in a tight battle, with most polls showing it a single-digit race, though one survey out Monday gave McDaniel a 12-point lead over Cochran.

The winner of the runoff will go on to face former Rep. Travis Childers (D) in the general election. Democrats think they have a shot at picking up the seat if McDaniel nabs the nomination.

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