Menendez: 'Aqua Buddha' ad a 'killer' for Conway

The chairman of the Senate Democrats' campaign committee called a controversial ad run by Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway a "killer" for his failed campaign. 

Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, criticized the ad and said his biggest mistake during the midterm election season was not asking for briefings on individual campaigns' television ads. In an interview with, he identified Conway's famous "Aqua Buddha" ad against eventual GOP winner Rand Paul.

"The allegations about Rand Paul's previous religious beliefs, I think, was a killer," Menendez said. "While we were dealing with economic issues, we were in the hunt."

Following Paul's win in the GOP primary over establishment pick Trey Grayson, Democrats had viewed the Kentucky seat, which had been vacated by retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R), as a potential pickup opportunity in a year that otherwise put the party on the defensive against the GOP.

But Paul eventually defeated Conway, the state attorney general, by almost 11 percentage points. 

Conway's spot scrutinized Paul's membership in a group in college that reportedly kidnapped a woman and forced her to pray to a god named "Aqua Buddha" and questioned his belief in Christianity. Some Democrats criticized the spot as too harsh following its release.

Despite the Kentucky loss, Menendez has been widely praised by Democrats because the party kept its majority in the Senate despite losing six seats to Republicans. 

"He made a lasting impression on the Democratic caucus," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said. "I find him to be a confidant. He is somebody I trust, not only his integrity but his judgment."

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