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Mudslinger in Chief

Harry Reid takes the low road.

May 5, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 32 • By FRED BARNES
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In Louisiana, Cassidy leads the field in the Republican Senate primary. In fact, he has run ahead of Democratic senator Mary Landrieu in many polls. Reid’s PAC indulged in guilt by association in tying Cassidy to the Koch brothers, who have aired TV ads pointing out Landrieu’s support for Obamacare. The Reid ad claimed Cassidy would “fight” for the Kochs to raise flood insurance premiums. Actually, Cassidy backed the flood insurance bill the Kochs opposed.

In other cases, Senate Majority PAC ads have been merely sleazy. An ad in North Carolina showed two couples alone in dark settings and linked Thom Tillis to the sex scandal in which his chief of staff and another aide were fired. Tillis’s involvement consisted only of giving bonuses to the aides on their departure.

In New Hampshire, a Reid ad said Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator now running for the Senate in New Hampshire, had purportedly saved Wall Street $19 billion in taxes. If true, he didn’t do it alone. The ad failed to mention Brown was one of the few Republicans to vote for the successful Democratic bill opposed by Wall Street, the Dodd-Frank legislation.

As reckless as Reid’s PAC ads are, they’ve attracted little attention from the mainstream media, much less prompted any indignation. Such permissiveness should worry Republicans, since it’s likely to lead Reid to continue his unscrupulous offensive.

His ads have achieved at least minimal success. The months-long fusillade by both his PACs has caused Cotton to fall narrowly behind Democratic senator Mark Pryor in recent polls. His approval rating also dipped. Fortunately, Cotton came up with an antidote last week, a witty ad featuring his Army drill sergeant.

Pryor—whose father was governor of Arkansas and served in the Senate for 18 years—had insisted Cotton felt “a sense of entitlement” to a Senate seat because of his military experience. His Army training, Cotton said in his TV spot, had taught him “accountability, humility, and putting the unit before yourself. That training stuck.” To which Master Sergeant George Norton responded, “It better have.”

Fred Barnes is an executive editor at The Weekly Standard.

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