A Republican group is pressuring Mitch McConnell to stop obstructing election security legislation

Running ads in red states, a GOP group calls out "Moscow Mitch" for having double-standards

By Matthew Rozsa

Published August 21, 2019 7:33PM (EDT)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (Getty/Tom Brenner)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (Getty/Tom Brenner)

A Republican group is calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stop obstructing election security legislation — and is running ads about his Republican colleagues to exert pressure on them as well.

The group Republicans for the Rule of Law is taking out ads to run online and during the news shows "Fox News Sunday," "Fox & Friends," and "Meet the Press" in the home states of Republican Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, James Lankford of Oklahoma and Marco Rubio of Florida, according to HuffPost.

Each video shows clips of the home state senator discussing Russia's past and ongoing attempts to meddle in America's elections. Blunt has refused to bring up election security legislation in the Rules Committee, which he chairs, while Graham, Lankford and Rubio have all co-sponsored election security legislation.

In the video tailored to Sen. Graham's constituents, for example, there is an opening clip of Graham saying, "The Russians' interference is a threat to our democracy." After describing Russian behavior during the 2016 election, it showed another clip of Graham, this time saying, "And if we don't hit them hard, you will be empowering Russia." After that the ad's narrator explains, "Mitch McConnell is blocking Sen. Graham's bipartisan election security legislation. Sen. Graham, protect our elections and don't let Mitch McConnell stand in your way."

Last week the group created a commercial directly attacking McConnell. After showing a clip of McConnell defending himself from the epithet "Moscow Mitch," the narrator showed clips of Trump which called into question his commitment to securing America's elections.

"Can we trust this administration to defend our elections? When our president stood on a stage with the person that attacked America and said, 'Putin, he just said it's not Russia... I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.'"

The narrator then showed a clip of the president telling ABC news anchor George Stephanopoulos that "I think you might want to listen" if Russia offered him information about a political opponent. Responding to the charge that he was welcoming interference in America's elections, Trump replied, "t's not an interference! They have information. I think I'll take it."

The clip also showed Trump telling a reporter that he didn't really believe that Russia was continuing to interfere in America's elections, despite former special counsel Robert Mueller testifying before Congress that Trump believed the contrary.

"Call Sen. McConnell and tell him, 'America is relying on you to let Congress do its job and secure our elections,'" the ad concluded.

After being dubbed with the epithet "Moscow Mitch" for obstructing election security legislation, McConnell took to the Senate floor last month and said, "Keeping our republic means we can't let modern-day McCarthyism win."

He later added, "For decades, I've used my Senate seat to stand up to Russia and protect the United States of America. I'm proud of my record. I'm proud that it's right there in black and white, and liars cannot gaslight it away. In the 1980s, as a freshman senator, I proudly stood with President Reagan on missile defense and other aspects of his Soviet policy. While the liberal media was shrieking — shrieking — that Reagan-Bush foreign policy wouldn't work, I was honored to support it with my vote and then watch communism crumble."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

MORE FROM Matthew Rozsa

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

All Salon Donald Trump Mitch Mcconnell $ Moscow Mitch News & Politics Republicans For The Rule Of Law