Inside Kentucky, Democratic Senate hopeful Amy McGrath assures voters that she opposes controversial policies of 2020 frontrunner Bernie Sanders, including Medicare for All and free college—positions she omits in fundraising pitches to potential donors outside the Bluegrass State.
McGrath is running near-identical ads, touting her military background as she enters a fighter jet hangar, inside and outside the state. In Kentucky, the ad says her platform "doesn't mean free college and Medicare for All," adding that she is "against that." Those portions are replaced with a fundraising plea attacking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in versions of the ad circulated nationwide.
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"I'm running for Senate in Kentucky against Mitch McConnell. I can win, but I need your help," McGrath says in place of the anti-Medicare for All and free college message. "With your contribution, we can finally remove Mitch McConnell from office and start repairing the damage he's done to our country."
McGrath is facing criticism in her home state for the inconsistent messaging. Primary opponent Mike Broihier accused her of dishonesty.
"In her ads here in Kentucky, [McGrath] says she is against free college and Medicare for All. In her ads running in other states, she removed these lines," Broihier said in a Friday tweet. "What does McGrath actually believe?"
Broihier, who is running to McGrath's left, supported Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. McGrath endorsed Joe Biden for president in January. Her campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the ad's discrepancies, or about whether she would back Sanders if he wins the nomination.
McGrath's national fundraising plea comes amid a decline in campaign contributions. The Kentucky Democrat brought in $6.1 million in quarter four fundraising, down 42 percent from the nearly $11 million she raised in quarter three.
McGrath has relied on out-of-state support in her bid to unseat McConnell despite portraying her campaign as a "grassroots movement." Just 1 percent of McGrath's itemized contributions, less than $230,000, came from inside Kentucky in quarters three and four of 2019. More than $3 million came from the liberal strongholds of California, New York, and Massachusetts. The Kentucky Democrat has been especially popular in Hollywood, raking in contributions from actress Amy Schumer, Walt Disney Studios co-chairman Alan Horn, movie producer and top Barack Obama bundler Jeffrey Katzenberg, and NBA coach and China apologist Steve Kerr.
McGrath announced her campaign against McConnell in a solemn July ad that did not once use the word "Kentucky." The Democrat faced immediate criticism after her campaign launch when she said she would "probably" have voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court before reversing course. Washington Post reporter and CNN political analyst Rachael Bade concluded the Democrat "probably can't recover" from the gaffe.
McGrath drew national attention in 2018 when she lost by 4 points to Rep. Andy Barr (R., Ky.) in Kentucky's Sixth Congressional District after comparing President Donald Trump's election to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.