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GOP Senate candidates in Arizona embrace Trump

GOP candidates are echoing President Trump leading up to Arizona's Senate primary election that will pick a Republican nominee for the seat currently held by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is retiring.

Posted: Aug 28, 2018 2:39 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2018 2:39 PM

Health care was the top issue referenced in campaign advertisements ahead of the US Senate primaries in Arizona and Florida on Tuesday, driven largely by Democratic messaging.

The focus on health care illustrates the Democrats strategy to largely avoid messaging around President Donald Trump's scandals in Washington and instead drive home issues they believe resonate more with voters.

In Arizona's Republican Senate primary, the candidates' efforts to tie themselves to Trump were on full display in TV ads.

Immigration and security have also colored ads in the Arizona race, and entitlements, taxes, and term limits have been points of emphasis in Florida.

Over $42 million worth of TV advertising has blanketed the airwaves in the two states through the week of August 28.

Arizona

A CNN analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG ad data shows how Republicans in Arizona's competitive Senate race have focused on immigration and security issues in their TV advertising, while also emphasizing their pro-Trump bona fides. Those were the top three TV ad themes by spending through the week of August 21 -- "immigration" ($2.45 million), "pro-Trump" ($1.77 million), and "public safety" ($1.58 million).

One of the top ads from Rep. Martha McSally touches on all of these themes, particularly the race to be the most "pro-Trump" candidate. It's a critical issue for McSally, the establishment favorite, and a former Trump critic who is facing a robust Republican primary contest against two outsider candidates -- Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio -- in the mold of Trump who have adhered to his brand of politics and seized on polarizing immigration issues.

In the spot, McSally says she's "working with President Trump to secure our border and keep Arizona families safe," promising to "crack down on sanctuary cities," "enforce the law," and "build the wall" on the US-Mexico border. The ad features a clip of Trump praising "my friend Martha McSally," and an Arizona Republic piece declaring McSally "Arizona's most reliable vote for the Trump agenda."

Another ad from One Nation, a pro-McSally conservative outside group, also focuses on immigration and security issues. "They illegally cross our border -- criminals, violent gang members, and drugs, putting us all at risk," a narrator says over images of the border and ICE agents, before praising McSally and fellow Arizona Rep. David Schweikert for their efforts on border security issues.

On the other side, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and liberal outside groups have made health care central to their messaging. Democrats have spent over $3.46 million on "health care" ads, with "taxes" ($1.58 million) and "veterans affairs" ($1.1 million) the second- and third-most discussed topics.

In one of Sinema's ads, she recounts her family's struggle with health care costs. "We were just kids when my dad lost his job. We lost our car, we lost our home, and we lost our health insurance. I know what it's like for a family to struggle to make ends meet," Sinema says in the spot. "Health care needs to be more affordable."

Meanwhile, Red and Gold -- a mysterious super PAC with links to Arizona Democrats that formed close enough to the primary date to avoid disclosing its donors until after the contest -- has been one of the most active outside groups in the race, spending over $1.6 million on a wave of ads targeting McSally that include a number of health care spots. In one of those ads, a couple from Oracle, Arizona, detail their struggle with health care costs.

"Every month I write a check for our health insurance. It's out of control," Kim Schweitzer says in the ad. "It hurts." Larry, her husband, references McSally's vote for the GOP attempt at repealing Obamacare, saying: "Martha McSally voted for this five-time cost increase for health insurance. I mean, I don't know how anyone can afford it. I don't get it, I don't know what Martha McSally is thinking."

Across advertisers from both parties in Arizona, "health care" was the top issue by spending ($4 million), followed by "immigration" ($2.7 million), "taxes" ($2.1 million), "public safety" ($2.1 million), and "terrorism" ($1.77 million) and "pro-Trump" ($1.77 million).

Florida

In Florida, as in Arizona, health care has been the dominant TV ad theme -- though Florida has seen more than three times the amount of TV ad spending so far, despite lacking a competitive Senate primary in a race expected to pit incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson against outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Across both parties, candidates and outside groups have spent $14.7 million on ads discussing health care (with $9.7 million of that total devoted specifically to ads about Medicare). Health care ad spending was ahead of "taxes" ($14.1 million), "Social Security" ($7.69 million), and "social issues" ($5 million) and "term-limits" ($5 million).

Broken down by party, Democrats have put the greatest emphasis on health care ($7.98 million), followed by "social issues" ($5 million), "call to action" spots ($2.9 million) and "Social Security" ($2.9 million).

For example, an ad from Senate Majority PAC, a leading Democratic outside group, features an ER doctor listing health care issues and criticizing Scott's policies as governor while praising Nelson's efforts. "We got an opioid crisis, a doctor shortage, seniors struggling to pay for care, but even with all that, Rick Scott vetoed millions in health care funds and refused federal health care funds that would have covered 750,000 Floridians. Bill Nelson took on the insurance companies, forcing them to cover people with pre-existing conditions," Dr. David Woolsey says in the spot.

And an ad from Majority Forward -- a group affiliated with Senate Majority PAC -- also hammers Scott for "veto[ing] nearly $200 million in health care funds" as governor, "slashing home health care for seniors and vaccinations for kids," and "cutting doctors at rural hospitals and treatment for opioid addiction" -- "instead, Scott backed his party and gave tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy," the ad's narrator says.

The Republican tax cuts, and tax policy generally, have been a key theme in GOP messaging in the Florida Senate race. Florida Republicans have spent $11.29 million on ads discussing taxes, while also stressing health care ($6.75 million) and "term-limits" ($5 million) -- a tactic conservatives have seized on to cudgel Nelson, a four-decade veteran of politics.

A top Scott ad hits Nelson over both the longevity of his Washington career and his opposition to tax cuts. "In 1978, the Ford Pinto was the best-selling small car in America, gas was 63 cents a gallon, and Bill Nelson was elected to Congress. Forty years later, a lot of things change, but Bill Nelson is still in Washington," a narrator says over a series of retro images. "349 times, he's voted for higher taxes."

Term-limits and Nelson's lengthy career are another recurring theme. An ad from New Republican PAC -- which has spent over $5 million on the ace so far -- ticks through Nelson's career, starting in 1972 when he was elected to the Florida legislature, and repeatedly criticizes him for liberal tax policies before closing with, "after 45 years, it's time to term-limit Bill Nelson."

The Republican approach to health care messaging in Florida, meanwhile, has been to target Democrats over the long-term viability of Medicare. One of Scott's ads argues that Democratic policies threaten the program's future: "You pay for Medicare your entire career -- your parents paid into Medicare their entire lives -- but Washington is letting Medicare crumble," a narrator says. "Bill Nelson voted to cut $716 billion from Medicare -- no wonder it's going bankrupt."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 253932

Reported Deaths: 5524
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17197175
Hinds16280322
Harrison13502193
Rankin10749211
Jackson10407183
Lee8819141
Madison8262162
Jones6375110
Forrest5992119
Lauderdale5873180
Lowndes5381116
Lafayette496692
Lamar487565
Washington4800123
Bolivar3978108
Oktibbeha393880
Panola370779
Pontotoc365353
Monroe3543105
Warren353498
Union344760
Marshall342665
Neshoba3383152
Pearl River329799
Leflore3004105
Lincoln297685
Sunflower284969
Hancock273459
Tate272462
Alcorn264053
Pike263577
Itawamba262959
Scott246645
Yazoo245955
Prentiss245652
Copiah241949
Tippah241750
Simpson235767
Coahoma233754
Leake231164
Grenada218470
Covington213071
Marion212072
Adams205870
Wayne201331
Winston200564
George199338
Attala193759
Newton192842
Tishomingo186359
Chickasaw183944
Jasper170835
Holmes168767
Clay159433
Stone143621
Tallahatchie141034
Clarke138960
Calhoun136121
Smith120823
Yalobusha117034
Walthall112336
Noxubee110522
Greene110229
Montgomery109634
Carroll104521
Lawrence102617
Perry102231
Amite98025
Webster92424
Tunica86721
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis84825
Humphreys83024
Benton81823
Kemper77220
Quitman6918
Franklin66615
Choctaw60513
Wilkinson58425
Jefferson54319
Sharkey43017
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 424028

Reported Deaths: 6121
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62258921
Mobile30381549
Madison27160186
Tuscaloosa20779267
Montgomery19049305
Shelby18572114
Baldwin16346182
Lee12515101
Morgan12260113
Etowah11757168
Calhoun11161200
Marshall10199107
Houston8630148
Cullman8036105
Limestone802874
Elmore7849101
DeKalb768897
Lauderdale760083
St. Clair7555120
Talladega6180108
Walker5903174
Jackson581341
Colbert533573
Blount530883
Autauga519855
Coffee443956
Dale398581
Franklin367548
Chilton337665
Russell331710
Covington327768
Escambia319342
Dallas303396
Chambers284269
Clarke282133
Tallapoosa2617107
Pike249429
Marion246250
Lawrence244247
Winston227335
Bibb216247
Geneva202535
Marengo199729
Pickens197031
Hale176442
Barbour173036
Butler170258
Fayette169026
Cherokee160530
Henry154421
Monroe145617
Randolph140735
Washington137726
Clay126745
Crenshaw119544
Lamar118219
Cleburne117723
Macon115035
Lowndes110735
Wilcox103121
Bullock99128
Perry97719
Conecuh94420
Sumter89126
Greene76123
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
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