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Jesse Kelly in 2010 called Gabrielle Giffords ‘hero of nothing,’ ad shows

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With a little over a week remaining until the special election for the seat of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), a super PAC aimed at boosting Democrats in House races is up with a new TV ad featuring a 2010 clip of Republican Jesse Kelly calling Giffords “a hero of nothing.”

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The 30-second spot, which is part of a six-figure TV ad buy that will run through next Tuesday’s June 12 special election, also includes clips of Kelly backing a zero-percent corporate tax rate and stating that Social Security and Medicare are “Ponzi schemes.”

But it’s the remark on Giffords, made by Kelly at a tea party rally, that’s likely to garner the most attention.

The narration and a chyron on the TV ad, from House Majority PAC, make clear that Kelly made the remark two years ago, before the January 2011 Tucson shooting that took the lives of six and left 13 wounded, including Giffords and Ron Barber, the former Giffords staffer who is now running to succeed her in Congress.

And a look at a longer video of the August 2010 event, provided by House Majority PAC, makes clear that Kelly was arguing that Giffords had presented herself as a “hero” for backing Obama agenda items such as the national health care overhaul.

The full version of Kelly’s 2010 remarks:

“Gabrielle Giffords is a big-spending, San Francisco liberal. That’s what Gabrielle Giffords is. And she has the gall to talk about us as extreme. Extreme! Did any of you vote for the government takeover of health care? I didn’t think so! Did any of you decide that the government should run the energy sector? Double the debts, double the deficits, double the unemployment? No! Giffords did that. And now she stands there with that smile and pretends to be some kind of hometown hero. She’s a hero of nothing. She’s brought bankruptcy to this nation. And we are going to bring unemployment to her.”

That context isn’t included in the House Majority PAC ad, though. The spot features only the following line: “And now she stands there with that smile and pretends to be some kind of hometown hero. She’s a hero of nothing.”

The spot comes as Giffords herself is stepping up her involvement in the race. The former congresswoman, who stepped down from her House seat in January, will campaign with Barber for the first time on Saturday at a “Get Out The Vote” concert in Tucson.

Polls show Barber and Kelly in a dead heat in the special election to fulfill the remainder of Giffords’s term as congresswoman from Arizona’s 8th District, which is one of the most competitive districts in the country.

Both candidates have also announced their intentions to run for a full two-year term in November, and after redistricting the district will lean slightly more in Democrats’ favor.

Barber, a first-time candidate who had worked as Giffords’s district director for five years and had been with her since her first House campaign, had pledged earlier this year to run a campaign based on civility.

But the House Majority PAC ad is the latest reminder that in the super-PAC era, decisions about the tenor of a campaign are often out of a candidate’s hands.

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