(CNN) – An Arizona Republican congressional candidate may have called Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords a “hero of nothing” six months before the tragic shooting that severely wounded the congresswoman, but that’s not stopping a super PAC supportive of his opponent from making sure the statement, out of context, haunts him.
Giffords, who was shot in the head in January 2011 when a gunman opened fire at an event she was holding at a Tucson grocery story, stepped down earlier this year to focus full time on her recovery.
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The new ad, sponsored by the House Majority PAC, uses a clip from an August 2010 campaign speech by Republican Jesse Kelly, who at the time was running against Giffords. It shows Kelly criticizing Giffords, saying "now she stands there with that smile and pretends to be some kind of hometown hero. She's a hero of nothing."
Kelly, a former Iraq war veteran, lost that race but is now running in a special election against Democrat Ron Barber, the former district director for Giffords who was also shot and injured in the 2011 incident. Six people died then, including a nine year old girl and a federal judge. Giffords endorsed Barber to take her place. The election is June 12.
The super PAC, however, defended using only a portion of the speech in the spot and taking the “hero” statement out of context.
"It's all Jesse Kelly in his own words and it speaks to his character," Andy Stone, spokesman for the independent House Majority PAC, which was set up to counter outside GOP groups, told CNN on Monday.
Emphasizing the message Democrats are repeating to voters in this swing district, Stone said the ad "clearly shows voters in Arizona that Jesse Kelly has dangerous ideas and is out of step."
Responding to the ad, Kelly said his campaign would focus on the issues at hand.
"This race is about Ron Barber's support for ObamaCare and Obama's Cap-and-Trade energy tax and we will remain focused on the issues important to the families of Southern Arizona," the candidate said in a statement.
In addition to the short snippet of Kelly talking about Giffords, the Democratic PAC's ad also uses clips from Kelly talking about lowering the corporate tax rate to zero and Social Security and Medicare being a "ponzi scheme" and argues his views are "extreme."
But in the full version of the August 2010 speech, Kelly attempted to make the case that Giffords did not reflect the views of Southwest voters. He called the then-incumbent congresswoman a "big spending San Francisco liberal" and cited her "extreme" positions supporting the "government takeover of health care bill” and federal spending that increased the national debt.
The House Majority PAC is spending in the "low six figures" to run this ad, according the Stone, and already spent $300,000 on an earlier ad that called Kelly "dangerous."
With about a week until the election, both Democratic and Republican aides say the race remains close. So far Barber has not appeared in any campaign commercials with Giffords, who is still a popular figure in the district, but the Arizona state Democratic Party has mailed out campaign materials to voters showing the two of them together. Over the weekend the Barber campaign announced that Giffords would join him at a rally on Saturday in Tucson.