Updated 12:57 p.m. | The latest television spot from Alison Lundergan Grimes shows her skeet shooting on a farm as part of the Senate nominee's attempt to create distance with an unpopular president in the midterms.
The Kentucky Democrat will face Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in November. In the spot, after firing a few rounds at clay pigeons, Grimes looks at the camera and says "I'm not Barack Obama. I disagree with him on guns, coal and the EPA."
The ad, which according to the campaign is backed by a significant buy in the six-figure range, will air throughout the commonwealth.
The ad pulls a page from the playbook of West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin III, another coal state Democrat, who famously shot a copy of the Cap and Trade bill with a rifle in a 2010 campaign ad.
The spot is also a clear response to persistent criticism from McConnell and his supporters that Grimes would align with Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada if elected. In recent polls by both CNN and NBC News , Obama has roughly a 30-percent approval rating in Kentucky.
"Mitch McConnell wants you to think I'm Barack Obama. Mitch is the same guy who thought Duke basketball players were UK, or who's attacking me on coal after doing next to nothing while we've lost thousands of coal jobs," Grimes says at one point, narrating the spot herself. "He even said it's not his job to bring jobs to Kentucky."
Senate Democrats stymied McConnell's efforts to block EPA regulations through spending bill amendments , a standoff that helped to upend the entire fiscal 2015 appropriations process in the Senate.
The McConnell campaign responded directly to Grimes on gun issues, alluding to the Manchin ad.
"An inexperienced Obama liberal with a gun is no less dangerous for Kentucky families than one without," McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said in a statement. "Much of Alison Lundergan Grimes' financial support comes from those seeking to implement gun control and wage the war on coal but cynically she believes a recycled TV ad idea will fool Kentuckians."
The National Rifle Association endorsed McConnell in the race.
The quip about Duke University and the University of Kentucky is a reference to a mix-up in a March Madness web video from the McConnell campaign ad-maker that featured the Blue Devils instead of the Wildcats in a montage.
The Senate contest is rated Leans Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
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