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McConnell slams GOP challenger as 'Bailout Bevin' in new ad

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"Matt 'bailout' Bevin is not a Kentucky conservative," a narrator opens the ad.

The narrator mentions the eight tax liens assessed on the company for failing to pay $116,000 in taxes and a state grant Bevin obtained to help his family's bell-making company rebuild after a 2012 fire.

He was also hit with a $6,2000 tax lien in 2008 after failing to pay taxes on a Maine vacation home.

A spokesperson for Bevin said that he hadn't taken over complete control of the company until August 2011, after which he paid off the back taxes, and personally loaned the company $1 million to help do so.

The ad closes with the narrator asking: "Bailout Bevin: How can you believe him on anything?"

Bevin's campaign was dismissive of the ad, characterizing it as an attempt to distract from McConnell's record. And Bevin spokeswoman Sarah Durand said that the attacks on Bevin's work with his company reflected that McConnell was "out of touch" with Americans.

"If Mitch McConnell had ever run a business or worked in the private sector, he would recognize what a commendable thing Matt did: He took a nearly bankrupt company, turned it around, saved American jobs and kept a historic bell manufacturing company in America. Sadly, Mitch McConnell is so out of touch, he doesn’t even understand that saving American jobs is a good thing," she said.

It's the second on-air attack from McConnell's campaign lobbed at Bevin, a reflection of the fact the Tea Party candidate has gained some traction with conservative groups.

Bevin's received the endorsement of the United Kentucky Tea Party and the Madison Project, a national conservative group that backs primary challengers. And a number of other prominent conservative groups, including the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth, have both signaled an openness to supporting Bevin's bid, if he proves to be a strong candidate.

Conservatives have long named McConnell as a potential target for a primary challenge, citing his votes for the financial bailout and support for an earlier immigration overhaul, among others.

Democrats believe him to be vulnerable, too, because of polling showing him unpopular in Kentucky.

But McConnell has been preparing for what's expected to be a fierce reelection fight for months, amassing a near-$10-million campaign war chest that he's readily used to launch on-air attacks like this one.

--This piece was updated on Aug. 6 to clarify details concerning Bevin's repayment of the government grant.

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