The Senate Republican campaign arm surprised Democratic Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyFormer Sen. Donnelly confirmed as Vatican ambassador Biden to have audience with pope, attend G20 summit Biden taps former Indiana Sen. Donnelly as ambassador to Vatican MORE (Ind.) with a mariachi band at one of his recent campaign stops.
Republicans have taken to calling Donnelly "Mexico Joe" over a report last month that his family's arts and crafts company, Stewart Superior Corp., manufactures some of its products in Mexico. Donnelly announced shortly after the report that he was selling his stock in the company.
Donnelly is among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2018, running in a state that President Trump by nearly 20 percentage points.
"Joe Donnelly can try to make Hoosiers forget about his family business's outsourcing controversy," a National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokesman said in a statement quoted by Washington Examiner, "but we'll make sure it's the first thing on voters' minds when they head to the polls in 2018."
Donnelly has long been a critic of free trade agreements and job outsourcing, and was among the most vocal critics of the air conditioning manufacturer Carrier's decision to move some of its production to Mexico. But Republicans are hoping to portray him as soft on outsourcing by highlighting his family's company.
The mariachi band was paid for by the NRSC and was accompanied by two men holding posters that said, "Outsource Donnelly out of D.C." and "Made in Mexico," with the letters "U.S.A." crossed out.
Mariachi bands are among Mexico's most cherished national symbols. They are traditionally hired for family-oriented festivities like baptisms and weddings.
Indiana Democratic Party senior media strategist Will Baskin-Gerwitz responded to use of a mariachi band Wednesday evening, calling it a "cheap publicity stunt" in a statement.
"Washington Republicans are resorting to cheap publicity stunts to distract from Joe's stellar record on the issues that matter to Indiana's economy. He's voted against every single bad trade deal, and he's consistently stood with Hoosier workers against the flow of jobs to other countries," Baskin-Gerwitz said in the statement
"Congressmen Messer and Rokita, meanwhile, have consistently supported bad trade deals that tilt the playing field against Hoosier workers,"Baskin-Gerwitz continued. "Indiana's working families know where Indiana Republicans stand, and it's not with them."