McConnell-aligned group launches seven-figure ad campaign with his footage

A group aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is hitting the airwaves with a new $1.8 million ad campaign that kicks off Wednesday with a commercial touting the Republican's record on veterans' issues.

"In Kentucky, we honor those who serve," says the narrator of the spot from the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition. "Senator Mitch McConnell knows they deserve nothing less. That's why he fought to bring a new VA hospital to Louisville, for more body armor to protect our troops and higher pay for soldiers." The commercial goes on to criticize President Obama's posture toward the military, contrasting it with McConnell's.

The group is a 501(c)4 issue advocacy nonprofit, hence the emphasis on veterans' issues. Scott Jennings, a former McConnell aide, advises the group. He also advises Kentuckians for Strong Leadership, a pro-McConnell super PAC.

The  Kentucky Opportunity Coalition said Tuesday that it plans to spend $1.83 million over the next three weeks on a series of advertisements. The new wave of commercials comes with the GOP primary about two months away. McConnell faces businessman Matt Bevin (R), who polls show trails by a wide margin. But Bevin is expected to ramp up his operation during the final few weeks of the race in an effort to turn the tide.

The ad includes some "b-roll" footage the McConnell campaign put online last week. The opening montage of McConnell smiling to the camera in the "b-roll" inspired many "McConnelling" parodies.

National Journal's Shane Goldmacher recognized its purpose — to provide outside groups with footage of the candidate that could be used for ads. As we wrote last week, this is a key way for campaigns and outside groups to communicate silently in an era where there are strict restrictions on coordination.

The primary is May 20.

Here is the footage the McConnell campaign put on YouTube last week:

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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