Internet ad targets Senator McConnell over fiscal cliff deal

Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 12:00am

A top political adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing back against a series of new on-line ads in McConnell's home state of Kentucky that target the top Senate Republican for helping to negotiate a deal that prevented the U.S. from falling off the fiscal cliff.

The ads, by the conservative advocacy group ForAmerica, ask "Mitch McConnell: Whose side are you on?" and show an image of a sullen McConnell sandwiched between pictures of a grinning Vice President Joe Biden and a smirking President Barack Obama.

After talks between the president and House Speaker John Boehner to avert the January 1 triggering of tax increases and massive federal government spending cuts broke down late last month, McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden took over negotiations and struck a deal. The vast majority of Senate Republicans voted for plan, which overwhelming passed the chamber. But even though the bill also passed the House, a majority of GOP representatives voted against the deal.

The five-term McConnell faces reelection next year, and is hoping to fend off any possible conservative primary challenges.

"Senator McConnell just won a victory to cut taxes for over 99 percent of Americans and will now help lead the fight to rein in spending and reform our broken entitlement system. Hopefully, all of our friends on the Right will get behind these efforts and stand up for our country," Jesse Benton, who's steering McConnell's re-election bid, told CNN in an email.

Before joining McConnell, Benton was the top political adviser to Rep. Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign, and also steered Rand Paul's 2010 Senate victory in Kentucky, including a GOP primary victory over a candidate backed by McConnell.

For America, which touts a three-million strong on-line following, says the ad is their first of the 2014 cycle. The group confirms that the on-line ad buy is five figures and includes Google Display, Facebook and The Drudge Report, both in Kentucky and in Washington, DC.

"Conservatives are holding Republicans accountable for betraying their principles, and are open to supporting challengers who may emerge. Kentucky elected Rand Paul, McConnell should be concerned," says ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell.

And responding to Benton, Bozell said "so to oppose a tax-and-spend agenda is anti-American? I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that."

The ad urges people to sign a petition to let McConnell and other Republicans in Congress know that they will be held "accountable" if they "go against the principles they claim to support!"

The deal puts off massive budget cuts for two months, and keeps the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for individuals earning less than $400,000 or couples earning less than $450,000. President Barack Obama has long demanded that the threshold be set at $250,000. Republicans wanted the Bush-era tax rates to be extended to all Americans, including the highest earners.

Economists warned that a one-two punch of tax increases and spending cuts, known as "sequestration," could push the U.S. economy back into recession and drive unemployment back over 9% by the end of 2013.

Politico first reported on the ForAmerica ad.

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