WASHINGTON -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) unveiled a new campaign ad on Tuesday that gives an incredibly misleading account of his record on the Violence Against Women Act, a bill he has voted against repeatedly -- most recently opposing it over its expanded protections for victims of domestic abuse.
In the ad, called "As If," McConnell's wife defends his record on women's issues against "desperate" attacks from his Democratic challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes. A narrator's voice says McConnell co-sponsored the original VAWA and has "always supported its purpose." In fact, the narrator says, McConnell voted for "even stronger protections" than President Barack Obama advocated, though it's unclear which protections that refers to.
But the ad only tells a small piece of the story.
McConnell did co-sponsor the original bill in 1991, which never got a vote, but he pulled his sponsorship when it came up again in 1993 and voted against the version that became law in 1994. More recently, McConnell voted against reauthorizing VAWA in 2012 and then again in 2013. Instead, he pushed for a scaled-back GOP version of the legislation that left out protections for LGBT, Native American and undocumented immigrant victims of domestic abuse. Democrats ultimately prevailed, winning over other Republicans to back the broader bill.
McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore declined to comment on the misleading nature of the ad. Instead, she pointed to some of McConnell's past actions in support of VAWA, including his co-sponsorship of the original bill in 1991 and his support for VAWA in 2005, when the Senate reauthorized it with an unrecorded voice vote.
Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton said McConnell's record on women's issues speaks for itself.
"Simply saying, 'I'm married to a woman' doesn’t speak loud enough," Norton said in a statement. "Your actions and record over 30 years in Washington indicate where and how you will stand up for women."
McConnell is currently leading Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state, by 3 points, per HuffPost Pollster's average of publicly available polling.