McConnell campaign puts the spotlight on Judd
February 19th, 2013
08:41 AM ET
1 year ago

McConnell campaign puts the spotlight on Judd

(CNN) – With more than 20 months to go before the midterm congressional elections, incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell's team is already attacking Democrats for not yet fielding a candidate to challenge the Senate minority leader.

McConnell's campaign released Tuesday its first web video of the campaign, a parody that attempts to depict President Barack Obama as being frustrated with the potential crop of Democratic contenders in the state.

Among those targeted include actress Ashley Judd, a potential Senate hopeful who's expressed interest in the seat and who's been on McConnell's radar for months.

The video features footage of Judd representing the neighboring state Tennessee, a state where she's lived for years, at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She's also seen saying in the video that San Francisco is her "American city home."

The video continues a line of attack that blasts Judd for not being a true resident of Kentucky. While she partly grew up in the state and graduated from University of Kentucky, Judd has lived elsewhere as an adult, including California and Scotland. She was married to Scottish race car driver Dario Franchitti, but they announced they were getting a divorce earlier this year.

Her website, however, labels Judd an "at least 10th generation Eastern Kentuckian."

Judd actively campaigned for Obama during the 2008 and 2012 elections and has been known for advocating for poverty reduction, immigration rights, environmental issues, public health, and human rights issues. She also graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University with a master's degree in 2010.

While she has stayed quiet on questions about a potential bid, she directed her Twitter followers this month to sign up for her newly-created mailing list.

"You'll be the first to know, well, all sorts of things," she wrote.

But the web video released Tuesday suggests that Judd is not Obama's type of candidate.

"We all know President Obama and his liberal allies have made Senator McConnell their number one target," Jesse Benton, McConnell's campaign manager, said in a statement. "We thought we would have a little fun with the problems they've been had (sic) finding someone to carry President Obama's banner in Kentucky."

McConnell, now in his fifth term, isn't the only one to preemptively go after Judd. American Crossroads, the conservative super PAC co-founded by Karl Rove, spent $10,000 on a web ad earlier this month, also hitting Judd for her declared love of Tennessee, where she owns property and where she spent some time as a child.

"This is just a fun way to kind of get under her skin a little bit and kind of show her what a campaign would really be like if she makes this decision," Jonathan Collegio, the communications director for American Crossroads, told CNN on Thursday.

The nearly three-minute web video also makes light of other Democratic elected officials in Kentucky, including Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth.

READ MORE: Almost two years out, it's rough in Kentucky

In the 2014 midterm elections, Democrats will again seek to regain the House majority they lost in 2010. Republicans currently hold a 232-200 majority in the lower chamber. Three seats are vacant. In the Senate, Democrats will be defending 21 of the 35 seats up for grabs in 2014.

– CNN's Paul Steinhauser and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2014 • Ashley Judd • Kentucky • Mitch McConnell • Senate
soundoff (243 Responses)
  1. Wake up People!

    Get that old neck Ashley!! Makes me wish I lived in KY so I could vote for her. Oops, scratch that. Weren't Deliverance and Wrong Turn set in KY??

    February 19, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. v_mag

    Ancient Texan is a staunch conservative. As a verb, staunch means "halt, hold up, stop, check, or deter an action", which is an apt description of the conservative philosophy. AT is fine with obstructionists like McConnell putting the brakes on the economy and throwing up every barrier possible to recovery, all to the benefit the 1%. He's right there with Mitch the Turtle, shutting down progress in the name of some mythical notion of individual freedom, which in reality the right wing undermines at every opportunity.

    February 19, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  3. Anonymous

    McConnell may not even be the GOP nominee. He should worry about that first.

    February 19, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. EPAB

    McConnell may not even be the GOP candidate. He should worry about that first.

    February 19, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. Rudy NYC

    When do these "political" attacks against a *private citizen* cross the line into outright slander? Judd is a private citizen who has never declared a candidacy for any political office. It is totally wrong to launch political attacks against her. I cannot help but wonder what the right wing would have to scream about if the shoe were on the other foot.

    February 19, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    "This is freekin pathetic and sets dangerous precedent and instead of calling it out for what it is ... "

    You mean McConnell's slurring of the reputation of a private citizen? Yeah, I agree. It IS pathetic.
    I also agree that CNN (and others) are explicit in McConnell's willful slurring of a private citizen for political (and monetary) gain.

    February 19, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. Jewels

    I think she'd focus on the people - what a novel concept. I wonder when McConnell lost sight of that idea - of why he was elected.....The only reason they're starting this so early is because they do see her as a threat.

    February 19, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    I presume if Ashley was to decide to run and ends up neck and neck with him in the polls, McConnel and his people would start asking for her birth certificate. And if that don't help him in the polls, look for them to ask for new voter IDs in Kentucky.

    February 19, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  9. LL

    What's the matter, CNN, couldn't find an in-focus photo of long-time public figure and humanitarian, Ashley Judd?

    McConnell, you are toast, buddy.

    February 19, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. Mack

    Democrats should make it their number one priority to keep McConnell from getting re-elected.

    February 19, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. Mack

    Run Mitch run! gobble..gobble...gobble

    February 19, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Phil in KC

    So they're going to show her the dirty politics they'll use to scare her away? Really classy move, McConnell. Shows why you should be removed.

    February 19, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Sniffit

    "Democrats should make it their number one priority to keep McConnell from getting re-elected."

    I'm pretty sure McConnell's behavior and statements to that effect about Obama have had the paradoxical and oh-so-ironic effect of making the end of his own career McConnell's top priority :-)

    February 19, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  14. Sharon

    I want Mitch McConnell gone as much as anyone.. Ashley Judd? Are you kidding me?

    February 19, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  15. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    In other news, John McCain just broke a Guiness Book of Record for the number of times he said the word Benghazi.

    February 19, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  16. here we go

    whatever it takes to get McConnell out. He is no help to the GOP.

    February 19, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. Pat

    attacking a private citizen? a private citizen is hardly that when she THRUSTS herself in to the political an obviously very public atmosphere...

    February 19, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  18. Jo from AZ

    RUN, ASHLEY, RUN!!!! McConnell is such a Sour Puss. Just look at him........his expressions, his demeanor, and his rhetoric, spell Negativity and Obstruction. You are so articulate, so fresh with ideas, and you hold Kentucky "Common Sense"! They need you! The Senate needs you! AND: OUR COUNTRY NEEDS CANDIDATES LIKE YOU!!!! RUN, ASHLEY, RUN!!

    And remember: McConnell failed the biggest project of his career: To make Obama a one term President!!!!

    February 19, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  19. ST

    I feel sorry for McConnell. For this coming election, I have much doubts whether you will survive it. It looks like a heavy wave of water will carry you to unknown destination. You have all rights to be worried.

    February 19, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Pat wrote:

    attacking a private citizen? a private citizen is hardly that when she THRUSTS herself in to the political an obviously very public atmosphere...
    --------------–
    Yes, they're attacking a private citizen. Tell us just what has she done to "THRUST" herself into the political spotlight. That fact still remains, however, that she has never filed any sort of papers to run for office. Just because a 3rd party conducts a poll does not make someone a legitimate target for political attacks.

    February 19, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. NastyBusiness

    McConnell may not even be the GOP candidate. He should worry about that first.

    February 19, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  22. Ancient Texan

    V-mag- You have it right. Somebody has to stop this trainwreck that is the free spending, nanny state seeking Obama administration. The House is controlled by the party that has just been re-elected by the voters to return America to it's greatness and stop the fall into third world status.

    February 19, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  23. too bad

    if anyone thinks Ashleys not up to a good old fashioned scrap with mcConnel you better think agian:}

    February 19, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  24. Jorge

    Go forward Ms. Judd, the world is hungry for people that cares for the ones in need!!! Kentucky, remember ones you vote and their get in the seat the forget about the voter and the dirty politician just remember money and power....Is not Ms. Judd nature, she is real and very humanatarian person. GO KENTOCKY FOR MS. JUDD!!!

    February 19, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. John/kc

    McConnell has been in office 6 terms. That is 30 years! It is time for him and his ways to go.

    February 19, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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