Republican strategist Karl Rove praised Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as an example of how vulnerable GOP candidates can fight back against false advertising from Democratic opponents in midterm races.
In a commentary for The Wall Street Journal
, he wrote, "In politics, candidates want to be on the offense, pressing their agenda and attacking opponents.
"But sometimes the best offense is a good defense that sets the record straight and flips the issue. McConnell did this superbly last week, showing why he is likely to win in Kentucky in November."
Rove, founder of the political-action committee American Crossroads, recounted how McConnell’s Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan, Grimes recently released a TV ad in which she is filmed sitting next to a retired miner.
The miner asks why McConnell "voted to raise my Medicare costs by $6,000. How are my wife and I supposed to afford that?" After a few seconds of silence, Grimes says, "I don't think he's going to answer that."
But Rove said, "He did answer, in 24 hours, in a video with clips of local and national media calling the charge ‘false,’ ‘misleading’ and ‘laughable,’ since he didn't vote for the measure the miner cited."
The GOP consultant said the measure was a House proposal that never reached the Senate and would not have raised the miner's Medicare costs anyway. The McConnell video also included footage of Grimes being pressed by Kentucky reporters to defend the ad.
"Then the McConnell campaign flipped the issue," said Rove, by reminding voters that President Barack Obama’s healthcare law cut Medicare "while saying that Grimes is 'Obama's Kentucky candidate. Obama Needs Grimes. Kentucky Needs Mitch McConnell.'"
Rove, a former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, wrote that "the adroitness of Republicans in understanding which Democratic attacks should be rebutted and how to turn the attacks to their advantage could determine who controls the Senate next year."
Rove said that Republicans do not have the same disadvantages they faced in 2010 when they lost competitive races in Nevada, Colorado and Delaware because of "second-tier candidates."
He concluded: "The candidates who play good offense most of the time and effective defense when needed are likely to win and determine whether a Republican or Democrat is majority leader."
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