A Republican-aligned outside group is spending $1 million on a new TV ad that touts Sen. Patrick J. Toomey’s efforts to give police officers access to military-style equipment.
The ad from One Nation, a nonprofit organization linked to GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, echoes the emphatically pro-police message Toomey has used during his battleground Pennsylvania Senate race. The first-term lawmaker is locked in a tight contest against Democrat Katie McGinty.
The minute-long spot opens with audio of an emergency phone call, with someone yelling: “Shots fired! Officer down!”
“The police who protect us have dangerous jobs,” a narrator says later, while footage of a man firing a gun into a police vehicle is shown. “Facing well-armed terrorists and shooters, our police need Kevlar and armored vehicles to keep us safe.”
Toomey, the ad then explains, has tried to give police officers the necessary safety equipment.
The ad will run Aug. 23 through Sept. 5 only in the Philadelphia media market, according to a spokesman for One Nation. The buy is worth $1.1 million.
The emphasis on law and order from Toomey and his allies has stuck out at a time when many of his Republican colleagues are more inclined to talk about the opioid crisis or foreign policy. To an unusual degree, the Pennsylvania Republican has sought to highlight his support of police officers in and out of state.
It’s an effort to win over moderate-leaning voters, especially in the Philadelphia suburbs, who might be worried about an uptick in crime or police violence.
But such an effort also mirrors the message of the GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Democrats argue that the overlap is undercutting Toomey’s ability to run as a distinct candidate from Trump, who polls show is significantly trailing Hillary Clinton in the Keystone State.
Debate over whether police officers should have access to military-style equipment has roiled American communities in the wake of several high-profile shootings of African-American men. Critics have said the equipment makes officers look more like an occupying army than a police force.