Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is going straight for the jugular.
The Kentucky Republican, who’s up for re-election next year, released a new campaign ad on Wednesday tying President Obama to the IRS scandal and to disgraced former President Richard Nixon.
In the ad, “Demand Answers,” IRS officials are seen testifying in front of Congress for the improper targeting of conservative groups 18 months before the 2012 election. That includes IRS tax official Lois Lerner who pled the fifth in front of a House Oversight committee last week.
“Again and again, this administration and its allies have used the resources of the government itself to intimidate and silence those that oppose it,” McConnell is heard saying in the ad. “I think that the leader of the free world and his advisers have better things to do than to dig through other people’s tax returns.”
Obama has said he was not aware that the tax-collecting agency had wrongly targeted conservative groups until media reports surfaced earlier this month. Its revelation led to the resignation of two top IRS officials, and Obama has promised to hold other IRS officials accountable and to work with Congress to make sure “this doesn’t happen again.”
In the ad, Nixon—one of the most unpopular, scandal-ridden presidents in American history—is also seen declaring “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” At the end of the ad, the words “Intimidation,” “Retaliation” and “Secretive” are splayed on the screen.
Critics have been tossing around words like “Nixonian” about the IRS scandal, in addition to the Justice Department’s decision to seize two months of phone records from Associated Press journalists. Earlier this month, Obama at a news conference was asked about the comparison. The commander in chief, however, did not take the bait.
“I’ll let you guys engage in those comparisons,” Obama said. “You can go ahead and read the history, I think, and draw your own conclusions.”
No Democratic opponent has declared their candidacy to officially run against McConnell, who is considered one of the most vulnerable Republicans whose seat is up for grabs in the 2014 midterms. Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ name has been tossed around, but she has not made a decision. A new survey released this week by left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, shows Grimes tied with McConnell in a hypothetical matchup.