Mitch McConnell is not a warm and fuzzy guy. And his approach to politics has always reflected who most people believe he is -- a crafty and calculating strategist whose formula for winning is to tear the other guy (or gal down).
The ad above, which was produced by Larry McCarthy and begins running today statewide in Kentucky at a high six figure buy "at minimum" according to McConnell campaign manager Josh Holmes, is a radical departure from that slash and burn strategy that has worked so well for McConnell in the past.
It tells the story of a Kentucky woman named Noelle Hunter whose daughter, Muna, was abducted in 2011 by Hunter's ex-husband and taken to Mali. Hunter tells her story while photos of her and her daughter are shown on screen. Here's the key part of what she says:
"I didn't know if [Muna] was alive or dead. I reached out to Senator McConnell and he took up my cause personally. I can't even talk about him without getting emotional. He cares. He cared about me and my children when other people didn't. He let it be known that this little Kentuckian needed to come home."
The words "I can't even talking about him without getting emotional" are not ones that have ever been uttered about McConnell. That Hunter tears up herself while re-telling the story and then adds that McConnell was at the airport with her when Muna was returned to her mother -- a photo is shown of the trio -- makes it all the more powerful.
The ad humanizes McConnell in a way that I, at least, thought was impossible. And it suggests that the McConnell team believes the key to closing out his race against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is to not only to keep up the drumbeat that she is a tool of President Obama -- particularly on environmental issues -- but also to give voters a reason to affirmatively vote for the Senate Minority Leader.
No matter how negative a campaign is -- and this one has been very nasty for a very long time -- the final ads that campaigns usually run are positive in hopes of leaving a not-so-terrible taste in voters' mouths. That McConnell is turning to such a feel-good ad this far out suggests a) the campaign likes where it is and b) the campaign is well-financed enough to dual-track positive and negative ads.
The three major election models all give McConnell a major edge -- with his probability of winning ranging from 85 percent to 99 percent.