Vulnerable Senate Dem touts opposition to NSA

Sen. Mark UdallMark Emery UdallThe 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Democratic presidential race comes into sharp focus Democrats will win back the Senate majority in 2020, all thanks to President Trump MORE (D-Colo.) is using his opposition to the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs to gain an edge over his Republican challenger.

Udall's campaign on Thursday released a new online advertisement that highlights his role as one of the largest critics of the embattled spy agency in Congress.

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The ad is Udall’s first to tout his record as an NSA critic in the race against Rep. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Republicans urge Trump to tone down rhetoric on protests The Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation McConnell: Next coronavirus bill will be final COVID-19 package MORE (R-Colo.) and could signal a focus on privacy issues in the hotly contested Senate race.

“We’ve got to keep our eye on government, or government winds up with its eyes on us," Udall said in the ad, speaking to the camera from a clean office space. "Mass collection of our phone and Internet records started under a Republican president and continued under a Democratic one."

Amid clips from a number of news interviews, Udall added that he “won’t tolerate it.”

“I’ve helped force their spying on Americans out into the open,” he said. “As Coloradans, our rights include the freedom to be left alone.”

Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been a vocal critic of the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records, as well as the agency’s use of a “backdoor” legal authority to collect emails, online chats and other Internet communications.

When Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced a bill to reform the spy agency earlier this summer, Udall was one of two Senate Democrats to criticize it for not going far enough. 

To date, however, Udall’s reelection campaign has largely shied away from talking about the NSA. Instead, the contest has focused on issues including energy and birth control, though Udall has also focused on turning out Hispanic voters in the state.

Udall has maintained a single-digit lead over Gardner in many recent polls, but the race is extremely competitive, and the outcome could determine whether Democrats retain a majority in the Senate.