McConnell Features Rand Paul as Kentucky Primary Nears

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R) with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (L) during a news conference on May 16, 2013 on Capitol Hill.

Photograph by Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (R) with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (L) during a news conference on May 16, 2013 on Capitol Hill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, making his closing case to Kentucky Republican voters, is invoking home-state colleague Rand Paul in two television ads that began running today.

“On Tuesday, join with Rand Paul and vote for Mitch McConnell,” a narrator says in one of the spots, which begins with footage of Paul saying in a Kentucky television interview last October that the state “ought to be proud of having Senator McConnell” and that he “defended our state when our state needed defending.”

The ad also touts McConnell’s rating of 92 out of 100 by the American Conservative Union for 2013, and good marks from anti-abortion and gun-rights groups.

If the state’s longtime senior senator is drawing on the popularity of the first-term junior senator, Paul has amassed a bigger national profile as he weighs running for president in 2016.

McConnell’s other spot tangentially mentions Paul as it focuses on attacking Matt Bevin, the Louisville businessman seeking to unseat McConnell in the primary. 

Bevin “has a problem telling the truth,” the narrator says in the spot, which segues to clips of local newscasts with unflattering coverage of Bevin. One of the snippets refers to Paul’s comments in February that Bevin showed inconsistency on the Troubled Asset Relief Program, widely dubbed the “Wall Street bailout.”

“Bailout Bevin: he’s not a Kentucky conservative,” the narrator says, using the alliterative and unflattering nickname that McConnell’s allies began applying to Bevin months ago.

The ad starring Paul first appeared this morning on the CBS affiliate in Cincinnati, which reaches Republican-rich suburbs over the Ohio River in northern Kentucky. The anti-Bevin spot first appeared this morning on Lexington’s CBS affiliate, according to Kantar Media’s CMAG, an ad tracker.

Bevin, in his most recent ad, mentions McConnell’s “long career in politics,” and a narrator criticizes the top Senate Republican for backing the $700 billion TARP package and a compromise that raised marginal income tax rates for wealthy income-earners and averted the so-called fiscal cliff at the beginning of 2013. Bevin has provided at least $1.25 million to his Senate campaign, Political Capital reported yesterday.

The Democratic nominee will be Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s secretary of state, who has nominal opposition in her party’s primary.

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