Two Republican governors are slamming Amy McGrath — the Kentucky Democrat looking to take on Sen. Mitch McConnell in November — for using their images in a campaign ad attacking the Senate majority leader.
McGrath released an ad over the weekend that featured images of Republican Govs. Mike DeWine of Ohio and Larry Hogan of Maryland, as well as Democratic Govs. Andrew Cuomo of New York and Kentucky's Andy Beshear — touting their leadership amid the coronavirus crisis.
“They’re all showing us what real leadership is and political party has nothing to do with it,” McGrath said in the ad, while using those governors to draw a contrast with McConnell, R-Ky.
“For Senator McConnell, it’s always about politics,” McGrath said in the ad.
But both DeWine and Hogan over the weekend criticized McGrath for including them in her ad at all, with the Ohio governor asking to have his image removed from the spot.
"Ohioans are focused exclusively on getting through COVID-19 and getting our people back to work and I'm proud to work with partners at the local and federal level to get it done,” DeWine said in a statement. “It’s for that reason that I’m particularly disappointed with an attack ad by Amy McGrath that uses my image against my friend, Mitch McConnell.”
“Mitch and I have worked together for a long time and I know that he is focused, as I am, on this crisis and I appreciate his leadership,” DeWine said.
He added: “I ask for the McGrath campaign to remove my image from her advertising immediately.”
And Hogan said the ad was not ”constructive,” in a swipe on Twitter.
“As I've said repeatedly, this is not the time for partisan politics or finger pointing,” Hogan tweeted. “I appreciate the praise, but campaign ads politicizing the coronavirus response are not constructive towards the urgent goal of bringing everyone together to fight our common enemy: the virus.”
Asked about the GOP governors' reaction, the McGrath campaign stood by the ad in a statement from the candidate: "This is exactly what’s wrong with politics. Every comment is, unfortunately, examined through a red or blue lens. In this case, I'm pointing out that leadership doesn't depend on your political jersey color. It's about your actions. Governors on both sides of the aisle are doing important work. Governor DeWine is one of them. It is disappointing that he rejects sincere appreciation from a Democrat, and it shows how far we have strayed from our ideals as a nation. I strongly stand by my ad.”
McGrath’s ad also features her criticizing McConnell for comments he made last month about bailouts for largely Democrat-run states.
McGrath, who was a Marine fighter pilot, touted her leadership skills, saying that during her time in the military “we didn’t care about politics, we just wanted to serve our country.”
“Sen. McConnell sees it differently,” she said. “He doesn’t want to pass what he calls blue state bailouts, even though Kentucky would get badly needed help, too. It’s why he said we should just declare bankruptcy.”
McGrath was referring to comments McConnell made last month, when he said he would “certainly” be in favor of allowing states to use “the bankruptcy route” rather than sending governors more federal money to deal with their states’ deficits.
“I would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route. It saves some cities," McConnell said last month. "And there’s no good reason for it not to be available.”
McConnell has since said he is open to state aid being included in the next coronavirus relief package.
The McConnell campaign fired back over the weekend.
“In the same 60 seconds, Amy McGrath claims the coronavirus pandemic response is not about politics while she exploits the image of Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine for her own political gain,” a McConnell campaign spokesman told The Hill. “Governors across the nation, as well as Leader McConnell, are focused on navigating their states through this unprecedented pandemic regardless of approval ratings.”
The McConnell spokesman added: ”Extreme liberal McGrath makes clear that she is only interested in shamelessly cozying up to popular leaders like Gov. DeWine to score cheap political points."