The race for Kentucky voters' hearts and holsters is heating up, and Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to prove her muscle. In an ad released Monday by her campaign, the Democratic Senate candidate highlights the differences between herself and President Obama, all while doing something very Kentuckian: skeet shooting in a field.
"I'm not Barack Obama," says Grimes, turning to the camera after firing a shot. "I disagree with him on guns, coal, and the EPA."
In a direct dig at her opposition, a photo of Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell brandishing a rifle at the Conservative Political Action Conference flashes on screen.
"And Mitch," she concludes, "that's not how you hold a gun."
A majority of Kentuckians believe guns do more good for society than harm, according to a 2013 Courier-Journal Bluegrass poll. And the National Rifle Association has been an active participant in the Bluegrass State's election, giving $10,000 to the state's Republican Party and endorsing McConnell in the race last week.
The gun-rights organization has campaigned on behalf of McConnell, too. In an NRA-funded mailer sent out to residents in August, the association assured voters that they "can count on Mitch McConnell to protect your Second Amendment rights." Grimes' campaign points out that she is a member of the NRA.
Democratic candidates have long used guns in political advertisements to show they aren't hometown versions of the Washington liberals they loathe. In the 2010 West Virginia Senate race, an ad for Joe Manchin showed the then-candidate shooting a hole through the Senate's cap-and-trade bill—EPA-supported legislation to reduce carbon emissions—just after declaring he would "take on Washington and this administration." Manchin won the seat later that year.
Grimes has taken aim at McConnell's gun record before. Last year, she invited the senator to join her on the shooting range "whenever he's not busy pandering to Washington lobbyists." He hasn't taken her up on the outing.
Shortly after Grimes released the ad, McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore responded with bite via an email blast: "An inexperienced Obama liberal with a gun is no less dangerous "Žfor Kentucky families than one without."
This story was updated at 12:30 p.m.