WASHINGTON -- A tea party group released a new ad on Tuesday claiming that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the reason Kentucky is "stuck with gay marriage," because he recommended a federal judge -- 22 years ago -- who recently ruled in favor of same-sex marriage rights.
The Senate Conservatives Fund, which finances tea party candidates including McConnell challenger Matt Bevin, is running the 60-second radio spot statewide for a week. In the ad, a man and a woman, both of whom display a remarkable knowledge of the judge's background, discuss how McConnell recommended U.S. District Judge John Heyburn to President George H.W. Bush in 1992. Last week, Heyburn ruled that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Here's a transcript of the ad, called "Mistake":
Local News Broadcast: It is a ruling that has people talking across the commonwealth tonight. A federal judge has ...
Woman: Unbelievable! Liberal Judge John Heyburn just ruled that Kentucky has to immediately recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
Man: Is that the same judge who overturned the ban on partial-birth abortions?
Man: Who recommended this liberal judge?
Woman: Mitch McConnell.
Woman: Uh-huh. Mitch McConnell called Heyburn an "excellent judicial appointment" and praised him for being “progressive.”
Man: “Progressive” means liberal. Now, why would McConnell recommend a liberal?
Woman: Political cronyism. Heyburn donated money to McConnell and served as a county chairman for his campaign.
Man: McConnell should admit right now that recommending Judge Heyburn was a mistake. He knew this judge wasn’t a conservative and promoted him anyway. Now we’re stuck with gay marriage.
Woman: Yeah. First it was funding Obamacare, then it was giving Obama a blank check to raise the debt ceiling, now it’s liberal judges. I’m voting for conservative Matt Bevin instead.
Man: Me too.
Even if one glosses over a few key facts -- that Bush supported Heyburn, that judges work independently of the senators who put them on the bench, and that other conservative senators have recommended federal judges who later issued rulings that those senators may not have agreed with -- the reality is that McConnell is about as socially conservative as they come. The five-term senator has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee and a 0 percent rating from the pro-gay Human Rights Campaign. Last fall he scored a key campaign endorsement from the National Rifle Association.
McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore called the ad "absurd" and said it shows how desperate supporters of Bevin's struggling campaign are.
"This is the kind of ad voters expect to hear from people who are days away from boxing up their personal effects and auctioning off the remaining printer cartridges in the office," Moore said. "It is so absurd and pathetic that they ought to stop troubling radio listeners with the obligation of switching stations and admit they have no justification to attack Senator McConnell."
A request for comment from Bevin's campaign was not immediately returned.
One recent survey put McConnell a whopping 42 points ahead of Bevin in the Republican primary race. But McConnell's bigger threat is his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes, who is in a dead heat with McConnell in the same poll.