McConnell campaign puts the spotlight on Judd
February 19th, 2013
08:41 AM ET
8 years 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.

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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. Marie MD

    If I was this guy I wouldn't remind the people of his state that there are women out there smarter, more polished and definitely prettier than him!!!

    February 19, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  2. TheDude

    She might as well run; she's pretty long in the tooth and unlikely to get anymore significant acting roles.

    February 19, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  3. Faulkner

    I am a registered Kentucky Republician. Have you ever listened to Ashley Judd? She is very bright and likely more informed than most serving Senators. I would vote for her in a heartbeat!!

    February 19, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  4. Michael Canty

    McConnell has reason to be afraid. Ashley will win eastern Kentucky and neutralize him in central ( UK) Kentucky. She will sweep Jeffeson County. Independents like myself are tired of Senator NO !!! Also as a proud American I still think one of the most shameful recent statements in recent American politics was his statement that his primary goal was to make Obama a one term president ( rather tha doing his job to represent the people of Kentucky) ! Can't wait for my Ashley Judd for Senate sticker on my car !

    February 19, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. lottie

    the no chin wonder must see a challenge if he is out in force so early. Why not Judd? the repos had Fred Thompson and the wrestler guy and Gee Ronnie Regan and Arnie so what's the big deal??? Have to listen to what she says before lambasting her. That's the way it should be. Love to see the old fart get replaced.

    February 19, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. empresstrudy

    She might have to fake her own death, break out of prison and hook up with Morgan Freeman.

    February 19, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  7. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Do not mess with Ms.Naomi. She'll kick your butt for messing with her girl.

    February 19, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  8. Stephen Whiteside

    As many people know KY is a poor state. I am not saying that in pride, but as fact. That being said in 1996 Sen. McConnell had a bigger war chest for his re-election than Senator Gramm (R-TX) running for President in the GOP primaries. Who does he sell his mouth to in order to get his hands on that much cash? By and large it certainly isn't the people of this state. Mitch represents interests outside of this state and he proves it day in and day out.

    February 19, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  9. JWT

    qualifications for senators: 1) they must be at least 30 years old, 2) they must have been citizens of the United States for at least the past nine years, and 3) they must be inhabitants of the states they seek to represent at the time of their election. That about covers it.

    February 19, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "No chance... she needs to move to New York, California or Minnesota...those loons elect celebrities."

    No doubt you were thinking of Michele Bachmann (R) MN ... Queen of the TeaParty? Or, perhaps you were thinking of exGovernor Jesse (the body) Ventura (I) MN ... King of the Libertarian Party? Or, were you only going to try and reference Al Franken (D) MN? One could almost argue Minnesota is at the very least consistent with the loons we elect.

    Unlike others who stick to one party come hell or high water. GOPers come to mind.

    February 19, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  11. Just Saying

    It is McConnell who has been targeting President Obama. Remember – Our job is to make him a one-term President?

    I think Mr. Mcconnell should be looking over his shoulder. All that filabustering he has been doing, and not getting anything done in the last four years due to his dislike of the President, has not been forgotten by the voters. Rather is it Ashley Judd or someone else, McConnell needs to go!

    February 19, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    -Ancient Texan

    Another far left celeb that thinks they have all the answers as to what this great nation needs.... They live in the World of Make-Believe folks and are removed from reality.
    And you cheered on doddering Clint Eastwood's performance art, no doubt. Better her than another bored "bidnessman" who talks about cheesy grits and how high the trees are in Michigan, then tells almost half the country to go to hell.

    February 19, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  13. julie

    I hope she wins and kicks that ole gravel mouth "my only concern is to make that president a one term pres..." under the curb................he is the leader of obstruction and the main reason we have a "do nothing congress"

    February 19, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. NickAnast

    The more money Rove and McConnell spend against Judd, the more I hope she DOESN'T run. All that money will go down the drain, and another Dem can step in and take on either an unpopular McConnell or a nutty Tea Party candidate. And after the Dem wins the seat, Rove will have to explain yet again why he wasted so much of other people's money.

    February 19, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. carol

    Haven't heard much about the Judds recently so wasn't surprised to see this latest idea.....Ashley for the Senate. Must be the joke of the day. Why not add one of the Kardashians while at it?

    February 19, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Republicans complaining about an actress contemplating running for the senate??? Gee, why don't you right wing trolls go talk to a chair then??? And why was Eastwood allowed a key slot at your convention???

    February 19, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. kathy

    I'd vote for's time for everyone to open their eyes and get Voldemort Mc Connell out of office. He has already done enough damage and is a hate monger and has spent his last 5yrs doing nothing but trying to ensure the first black President is defeated....sounds like a true Kentuckian to me.

    February 19, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  18. LiberaLIowan

    The turtle man is shaking in his shell 🙂

    February 19, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. MeapersoninUS

    Ole' McDonnell really needs to go somewhere, sit down and shut UP. He clearly does NOT represent KY he represents speical instrest and the gun lobby.

    February 19, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    -Atul C.

    Wow, liberals are on a troll. Obama and his thuggery has shown in last couple of elections to depict what really politics is? From no issues, they made issues. Now that you have voted a guy who have never had a job, pay the consequences. Gas prices are $4+, jobless situation not improving, Korea has nuclear tested twice, ready for the third and Iran is happily enriching uranium. Americans are getting killed around the world. World still hates us.
    And the GOP adds uncertainty at every turn, by tacking on useless riders and putting holds on their own people when they are nominated for posts to serve their country. The uncertainty is a deliberate policy by the GOP to deny their own country success. Nice to see the people who claim they love their country so much they want to destroy it spring to the defense of an utterly ammoral fool who looks like Beaker on "The Muppet Show" and sounds like a hung-over Foghorn Leghorn. At least we know Judd earned her money.

    February 19, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  21. anahadwolves

    Two things: (1) The Repukes surely must be nervous. Otherwise, why attack anyone and everyone who might be a challenge to Senator Turtle? and (2) this is Karl Rovian politics at its nastiest: define your opponent before he/she can.

    I'd suggest Senator Turtle take some of the Koch brother's money and do himself some good: buy a chin.

    February 19, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. Sniffit

    "TRENDING: McConnell campaign puts the spotlight on Judd"

    TRENDING: Terrified Teatroll McConnell and his campaign spending thousands of dollars pre-emptively attacking private citizen who has not declared any candidacy for office.


    This is freekin pathetic and sets dangerous precedent and instead of calling it out for what it is, CNN/the MSM eats it up as yet another opportunity to sensationalize a controversy for ad dollars. I'd like to see a poll as to which thing people find more pathetic: McConnell's terror and self-serving, power-hungry attacks on a private citizen OR the MSM drooling over it.

    February 19, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    If Ashley cannot beat McConnel, I have a solution. In putting together his cabinet or "team of rivals" in 2009 and again in 2013, President Obama has crossed party lines to appoint republicans and conservatives to key positions. Therefore, to unseed McConnel, I say campaign for a moderate tea partier. I'm sure there are some out there in Kentucky who won't mind joining the progressive democratic party.

    February 19, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  24. Rudy NYC

    There seems to be a viral infection racing through the right wing think tank, "Judd Dread".

    February 19, 2013 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  25. Puddin

    The GOP is worried about Ashley Judd. The say they are "just having a little fun showing her how rough politics is." She doesn't walk around with her brained turned off; she is just like the rest of us watch the GOP obstructionists in Congress. If she decides to run, I hope and pray she wins......anyone other than McConnell. Rumor has it the folks in KY are good and tired of him.

    February 19, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
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