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DeWine asks McGrath to keep him out of attack ads

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWineMike DeWineRepublicans eye primaries in impeachment vote Shellshocked GOP ponders future with Trump Governors respond to violence at Capitol MORE (R) asked that Amy McGrath, the Kentucky Democrat challenging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (R-Ky.) for his seat this year, refrain from using his image in her advertising after she cited him in a video blitzing McConnell.

“Ohioans are focused exclusively on getting through COVID-19 and getting our people back to work, and I'm proud to work with partners at the local and federal level to get it done. It’s for that reason that I’m particularly disappointed with an attack ad by Amy McGrath that uses my image against my friend, Mitch McConnell,” DeWine, who has received bipartisan praise for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in his state, said in a statement. 

“Mitch and I have worked together for a long time and I know that he is focused, as I am, on this crisis and I appreciate his leadership," he continued. "I ask for the McGrath campaign to remove my image from her advertising immediately.”

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DeWine has seen his popularity soar thanks to his handling of the coronavirus, with the governor straddling the line between imposing restrictions meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 and working to reopen the economy. Polling has shown his approval skyrocket among both parties, with a Washington Post-Ipsos poll finding he wins 84 percent approval among Republicans and 90 percent approval among Democrats.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, another Republican in the ad who has received plaudits from members of both parties, also admonished McGrath, saying that while he appreciates the praise, now is not the time to politicize the coronavirus.

"As I've said repeatedly, this is not the time for partisan politics or finger pointing. I appreciate the praise, but campaign ads politicizing the coronavirus response are not constructive towards the urgent goal of bringing everyone together to fight our common enemy: the virus," Hogan tweeted.

The statements came in response to an attack ad from McGrath, who cited DeWine and other governors of both parties for their “leadership” during the pandemic. 

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“Republican governors like Mike DeWine in Ohio and Larry Hogan in Maryland and Democrats like Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoThree National Guardsmen killed after military helicopter crash in New York New York City reschedules 23,000 vaccination appointments due to supply issues Pence delivers coronavirus task force report to Biden MORE in New York and our own governor Andy Beshear, they’re all showing us what leadership is,” McGrath says in the ad. “But Sen. McConnell sees it differently. ... For Sen. McConnell, it’s always about politics.”

McConnell has come under withering criticism from Democrats over his remarks regarding financial aid to states, including his comments saying the government should not be granting “blue state bailouts” and suggesting he supports letting states declare bankruptcy.

"I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route. It saves some cities. And there’s no good reason for it not to be available," McConnell said last month. "My guess is their first choice would be for the federal government to borrow money from future generations to send it down to them now so they don’t have to do that. That’s not something I’m going to be in favor of."

Still, it is unusual for governors to get involved in the minutia of other states’ Senate races, with DeWine’s statement illustrating the bipartisan line he is trying to toe as he works to overcome the pandemic in Ohio.

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McConnell’s campaign hammered McGrath over the ad, saying she is trying to tie herself to popular leaders in an attempt to boost her own standing in the Senate race.

"In the same 60 seconds, Amy McGrath claims the coronavirus pandemic response is not about politics while she exploits the image of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine for her own political gain. Governors across the nation, as well as Leader McConnell, are focused on navigating their states through this unprecedented pandemic regardless of approval ratings," a McConnell campaign spokesperson said. "Extreme liberal McGrath makes clear that she is only interested in shamelessly cozying up to popular leaders like Governor DeWine to score cheap political points."

Updated at 2:57 p.m.