GOP group targets McConnell over election security bills in new ad

A Republican group is ramping up pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJulianne Moore calls for Senate to come back from recess to address gun violence ‘public health crisis’ Tim Ryan plans to be back on campaign trail on Friday after shooting The terrifying link between misogynists and mass shooters MORE (R-Ky.) to take up election security legislation ahead of 2020. 


The 60-second ad from Republicans for the Rule of Law opens with McConnell coming to the floor last month to block requests from Democratic senators to pass election security bills by unanimous consent. McConnell has defended his decision, arguing that the two bills were partisan and that the Trump administration had stepped up its efforts to secure elections ahead of the 2018 midterms. 



“The facts are that this administration has made huge strides on election security and are vigilant and proactive as we head into 2020,” McConnell says from the Senate floor in the ad. 


The ad’s narrator then asks if Americans can “trust” President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump cites brother’s struggles with alcohol as driving force behind fight against opioids Booker: ‘Knowing the bloody, violent truth of our past empowers me’ Analyst says Trump’s Venezuela policy is driven by Florida politics MORE before pivoting to footage of his 2018 summit with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinGOP group targets McConnell over election security bills in new ad George Soros’s secret 2016 access to State exposes ‘big money’ hypocrisy of Democrats US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman resigns MORE, an ABC News interview in which Trump suggested he was open to accepting information about a political opponent from a foreign government, and his dismissal of a question about former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: ‘I’d like to know’ if Mueller read his own report MORE‘s warning that Russia will interfere in 2020. 


“Call senator McConnell and tell him America is relying on you to let Congress do its job and secure our elections,” the ad’s narrator says.



The ad went up Thursday morning, airing in Washington, D.C., and statewide in Kentucky on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and Fox News’s “Fox & Friends.” The ad will also air Sunday on morning political news shows, including CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Fox’s “Fox News Sunday” and NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and will be advertised digitally on Facebook and YouTube for three weeks in Kentucky. 


“Republicans for the Rule of Law is calling on Congress to secure our elections. Instead of seizing the moment for bipartisan action, the Senate GOP recently blocked multiple election security bills,” said Chris Truax, a legal adviser for the group, which was founded by conservative commentator Bill Kristol and GOP members who didn’t want to see Mueller fired during his Russia investigation. They’ve been critical of Trump over his criticism of Mueller, his comments on Russia and other actions, including his decision to declare a national emergency to get more funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall.


McConnell came under fierce criticism for blocking the two election security bills a day after Mueller warned House lawmakers that he believed Russia was trying to interfere in the 2020 elections “as we sit here.” The floor fight went viral after MSNBC host and former GOP lawmaker Joe ScarboroughCharles (Joe) Joseph ScarboroughGOP group targets McConnell over election security bills in new ad MSNBC’s Geist presses Castro on sharing Trump donors’ names: These people ‘are already being harassed’ Scarborough says Trump donors are financing white supremacy MORE repeatedly referred to the GOP leader as “Moscow Mitch.”


While the House has passed multiple pieces of legislation, election security bills have been stalemated in the Senate for months with Republicans warning against attempts to “federalize” elections. 


Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP group targets McConnell over election security bills in new ad Budget deal sparks scramble to prevent shutdown GOP punches back in election security fight MORE (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, indicated earlier this year that he would not bring up election legislation because he doesn’t believe McConnell would give it a vote on the Senate floor. 


McConnell, during a fiery floor speech, hit back at his critics as “lying” and comparing them to “modern-day McCarthyism.” 


“These pundits are lying, lying when they dismiss the work that has been done. They’re lying when they insist I have personally blocked actions which, in fact, I have championed and the Senate has passed. They are lying when they suggest that either party is against defending our democracy,” he said. 


Republicans for the Rule of Law also targeted McConnell in a separate ad late last month, saying the GOP leader “is preventing election security bills from being voted on in the Senate.” 


Republicans for the Rule of Law has come under criticism because it has taken funding from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who has donated to Democrats and anti-Trump groups. Omidyar sits on the board of the Democracy Fund Voice, which gave $1.6 million in 2018 to support Republicans for the Rule of Law and Defending Democracy Together, which started the project.


Kevin Golden, McConnell’s campaign manager, knocked the group in a statement on Thursday, referring to them as a “scam.”


“They’re taking money from a left-wing billionaire and spending it to attack President Trump and Senator McConnell,” he said. “Scam pacs come in all shapes and sizes, but this is the first one I’ve seen that resembles a laundromat.”


Updated at 11:10 a.m. 

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