While super PACs can’t officially coordinate with a candidate’s campaign, they usually have a pretty good idea of how they’re supposed to help. Sometimes it’s from years of experience working with a candidate, sometimes it’s following the campaign’s lead, and sometimes it’s conveniently finding hours of b-roll footage online.
But every once in a while, the lack of communication leads to a super PAC creating an ad that does more harm than good. After drawing criticism from Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the Kasich campaign, and the Ohio governor himself, the pro-Kasich super PAC New Day for America has been forced to pull down and replace a new ad critical of Marco Rubio less than 24 hours after announcing it.
Politicizing the Violence Against Women Act
The controversial ad in question features Ayotte, New Hampshire’s Republican Senator, speaking in favor of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Text appears onscreen that informs the viewer “78 Senators, Including Every Female, Supported the Violence Against Women Act.” It then asks, “Who voted against it?” The answer: Marco Rubio.
Indeed, Rubio, Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz were among the 22 Republican senators who voted against the Violence Against Women Act. It’s an issue that Democrats have repeatedly raised against Rubio and were happy to seize upon again with it now in the news. The legislation long enjoyed bipartisan support, including from Kasich, who voted for it twice.
But Ayotte was unhappy to find herself at the center of a primary race in which she has remained neutral. She said that domestic violence is a “serious issue” and stated “I’m appalled that an outside group has exploited it in a political attack.”
Kasich campaign adviser John Weaver tweeted, “Sometimes your friends think they are helping but they are not.”
Playing Nice in New Hampshire
Kasich himself voiced his displeasure with the super PAC’s ad. Speaking at a country club, he told supporters “I woke up this morning and I heard they were going to put a negative ad on television and I was outraged about it.” He also called on his opponents to take down their negative ads: “I’ll tell you, why don’t we finish the last week with people saying what they’re for rather than beating each other up?”
Kasich has risen to second place in New Hampshire polls in recent weeks, ahead of Rubio. He is fresh off earning the endorsement of the New York Times, which called him “the only plausible choice for Republicans tired of the extremism and inexperience on display in this race.”
Of course, while Kasich distances himself from the attack, coverage of the ad being pulled has now achieved the PAC’s goal of inserting the issue into the race.
Kasich is not the first candidate forced to condemn a super PAC that was supposed to be helping him. Some of the highlights (lowlights?) of wayward PACs in the past:
Newt Gingrich asked his super PAC to correct the Mitt Romney film “King of Bain,” which earned four Pinocchios from the Washington Post fact-checker and which many Republicans interpreted to be anti-capitalist.
Laura Ruderman told Progress for Washington to take down an ad critical of her Democratic primary opponent, Suzan DelBene. Awkwardly enough, Progress for Washington was funded by Ruderman’s mother.
Do you know the difference between a PAC and a super PAC? Read all about it here.