In March, Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s re-election campaign posted a strange video on its YouTube channel showing the senior lawmaker taking on random tasks and poses. The video, silent except for a jaunty soundtrack, contained a series of unrelated shots: a smile with his wife, a handshake on the campaign trail, a rousing speech at a factory.
The video, it turns out, was created to provide free B-roll to friendly supporters to use for their own pro-McConnell ads — which isn’t a bad idea, because campaigns are legally barred from coordinating with outside groups. The footage also became the source for scores of hilarious parody videos, which the Internet quickly dubbed “McConnelling.”
But now McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, is using the free footage in ads against him. Grimes’ campaign on Wednesday released a Web ad, seen first on Yahoo News, accusing the five-term senator of advocating against women, and every physical shot in the 45-second spot comes directly from the video McConnell’s campaign produced for friendly campaigns.
The Grimes ad, which is meant for the Web and not backed by a television airtime buy, aims to portray McConnell as a lawmaker who has worked against women’s rights throughout his Senate career, which spans nearly three decades.
As the Senate minority leader, McConnell is one of the most powerful elected Republicans, and Democrats are pouring massive resources into the campaign for his defeat as polls show the race tightening.
Most recently, the party has targeted female voters in Kentucky as part of that effort and released a television ad this week pointing to past votes against the “Violence Against Women Act” and other bills that address women’s issues. McConnell was, in fact, a co-sponsor of the VAWA in 1991, but he voted against final passage of a version of the bill in 1994 because it included an assault weapons ban. McConnell supported reauthorization in 2000 and 2005 but not in 2013, when, instead, he supported an alternative version proposed by Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley that failed to pass the Senate.