Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has unveiled a new TV ad in his re-election campaign that features a throat cancer survivor praising the Kentucky Republican for helping sick workers at a uranium enrichment plant.
In the 30- and 60-second versions of the commercial, Robert Pierce reveals he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 after being exposed to radiation while working at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western Kentucky for 26 years.
Speaking in a whisper because his vocal chords were removed during his treatment, Pierce credited McConnell for arranging cancer screenings and compensation for workers at the factory, which for decades has supplied enriched uranium to nuclear powers plants, according to Lexington Herald-Leader's website Kentucky.com.
"I worked at a nuclear facility that has been vital for our national security," Pierce said.
"Like many, I was exposed to radiation. I got cancer. But Mitch McConnell fought for us. "He knocked down walls for us. He helped save peoples' lives. I know firsthand he cares. . . . Mitch McConnell is a caring and powerful voice for Kentucky’s families, and having a strong voice matters."
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Pierce also says in the ad, which cost in the mid-six figures and runs for two weeks, that the five-term senator "gets results for Kentucky that no one else can."
McConnell is facing a tough campaign in the GOP primary against tea party opponent Matt Bevin, and in the potential November election against the Democratic front-runner, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
A recent survey by Democratic polling firm Lake Research Partners showed McConnell and Grimes running neck-and-neck in the race for his seat. But in his primary challenge from the Senate Conservatives Fund-backed Bevin, the incumbent was leading by an overwhelming 50 percent to 17 percent margin.
Grimes spokesman Charly Norton quickly attacked the new McConnell ad, saying it's very similar to a commercial the senator aired in 2008.
"It is no surprise Mitch McConnell has to recycle old TV ads, given that he offers no new ideas. It is insulting to Kentuckians for McConnell to haul out this old, dishonest play every six years when he's on the ballot," Norton said.
McConnell's campaign pointed out, however, that the senator had arranged funding for a medical monitoring program for the Paducah workers and retirees, including a mobile scanner to screen for early stages of cancer, according to Kentucky.com.
The campaign said that because of McConnell's efforts, workers who become ill from radioactive materials are eligible for $150,000 in compensation and free healthcare for life.
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