By Justin Sink - 04/18/13 11:42 AM EDT
A new ad from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggests that last week's release of a secretly recorded campaign strategy meeting is evidence President Obama is plotting to engineer his defeat next year.
“Mitch McConnell is Obama’s No. 1 target because Mitch protects Kentucky from Obama’s bad ideas,” the ad's narrator says. "Liberals will do anything to beat McConnell."
The ad features a local news clip reporting accusations that two members of the Democratic group Progress Kentucky were suspected of making the recording. It goes on to reference a racially charged tweet sent by the group regarding McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, who was born in Taiwan.
The ad also slams an article in Foreign Policy magazine that suggests McConnell's opposition to gun control posed a greater threat to everyday Americans than North Korea.
"How dirty will Obama's allies get?" on-screen text asks.
The campaign will make a buy "well into the six figures" on broadcast and cable television.
"The far Left is desperate to hurt Senator McConnell and have resorted to some of the dirtiest tactics in memory," McConnell campaign manager Jesse Benton said in a statement.
"Whether it be the Left's racist attacks, their spying and illegal recording of our office meetings or comparing Mitch to mass-murderers and Al Qaeda terrorists, Kentuckians are appalled and will not stand for it."
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky accused McConnell of "play[ing] the victim" with his ad.
“Mitch McConnell is the living, breathing embodiment of everything that is wrong with Washington. Polls show that McConnell is the most unpopular senator in the entire country, so he is desperate to play the victim, even comparing himself to victims of the Nazis," he said in an email.
McConnell has been playing offense since the release of the campaign strategy recording, on which aides can be heard weighing attacks on Ashley Judd's mental health. The actress had considered challenging McConnell but ultimately opting against a run.
Jacob Conway, a member of the Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee, said last week that two members of Progress Kentucky — Executive Director Shawn Reilly and volunteer Curtis Morrison — bragged to him they were responsible for the secret recording. Conway later told Louisville's The Courier-Journal that he was certain he spoke with Morrison about the recording but not certain he had spoken with Reilly.
The FBI is investigating.