Grimes, pro-McConnell group launch dueling attack ads

Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is launching a series of ads featuring Kentuckians asking Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) policy questions, the first one focused on Medicare.

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Meanwhile, a pro-McConnell group is launching an ad of its own, hitting Grimes for “dodging the tough questions.”

Grimes’s ad features Don Disney from Cloverlick, Ky., who identifies himself as a retired coal miner.

“I want to know how you could’ve voted to raise my Medicare costs by $6,000. How are my wife and I supposed to afford that?” Don asks

Grimes sits next to Don in the ad, both of them in front of a fire truck in an open lot. The camera pans wide as the two wait in silence, and Grimes finally says, “I don’t think he’s gonna answer that.” 

“I approved this message because I’ll work to strengthen Medicare, not bankrupt seniors like Don,” she adds.

The claim of the ad hinges on a popular Democratic reading of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) initial budget proposal, which changes how Medicare is funded and would, by some analyses, result in drastically higher out-of-pocket expenses for seniors in 2022.

The Grimes ad points specifically to a 2011 vote McConnell took for that version of the Ryan budget.

McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore said Grimes is hitting the “panic button” with the new ad, and argued ObamaCare is in fact worse for Medicare.

"It says a lot about the candidacy of Alison Lundergan Grimes that she's a full four months away from the election and she already hit the panic button by resorting to the oldest, most cynical attack in the Obama playbook to scare Kentucky seniors,” she said in a statement. 

“The simple reality is that Senator McConnell has fought to protect Medicare, while Alison Lundergan Grimes and her political benefactors have raided it by $700 billion to pay for Obamacare.”

However, that $700 billion figure has also been questioned by independent fact-checkers. ObamaCare does cut about that much in Medicare expenditures, but it does so largely through reductions in payouts to hospitals and private health insurance companies — not by reducing benefits to seniors. And the 2012 Ryan budget that McConnell supported also includes those cuts.

But the Medicare debate is one both candidates hope to win, as seniors make up a significant voting bloc in Kentucky and will have a significant impact on the outcome of the election.

Grimes’s campaign is running the ad on a six-figure statewide buy beginning Tuesday. 

But she’s not alone on the airwaves — Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a group supporting McConnell’s reelection bid, launched a 30-second ad on Tuesday featuring news reports outlining times Grimes has refused to answer questions on the trail.

"What do we know about Alison Grimes? The Bowling Green Daily News says she ‘waffles on the issues … hides from voters.’ The Herald-Leader reports Grimes is ‘nearly impossible to pin down.’ Dodging the tough questions,” a narrator says.

The ad is running statewide on broadcast and cable on a $715,000 buy through July 16.

—This piece was updated to clarify the McConnell vote the Grimes ad attacks.