- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Republican senators are the target audience of an advertising campaign launched Tuesday by a conservative group seeking consideration of election security legislation.

A series of ads released by the group Republicans for the Rule of Law urges lawmakers to push Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to act on proposed election security bills.

Geared toward Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and James Lankford of Oklahoma, the ads will appear on television in their home states as part of the campaign starting this week.

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Mr. Rubio, Mr. Graham and Mr. Lankford all support various bills offered in response to the Russian government interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential race, and Mr. Blunt chairs the influential Senate Rules Committee where the proposals are pending amid Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, remaining reluctant to bring any election security measures to a vote.

The ads recall statements the senators made previously about Russia interfering in the 2016 race before urging them to press Mr. McConnell to act, each spot ending: “Protect our elections and don’t let Mitch McConnell stand in your way.”

McConnell and all Republican senators have no greater responsibility than protecting our elections from foreign enemies like Russia and Iran,” said Chris Truax, the group’s legal advisor and spokesman. “If Senator McConnell is unwilling to take the lead on this issue, the least he can do is get out of the way.”

A spokesperson for Mr. McConnell’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on the ad campaign.

Currently available on the group’s YouTube channel, the 30-second spots will begin airing on Fox News and NBC starting Wednesday this week, according to Republicans for the Rule of Law.

Altogether the campaign is costing the group around $400,000, McClatchy first reported, with the lion’s share being spent advertising in Florida, according to the group.

Democrats in support of election security bills introduced in response to the 2016 race have taken aim at Mr. McConnell in recent weeks for blocking lawmakers from voting on any of the proposals as the next presidential election nears.

Senior administration officials have warned that Russia is likely to meddle in next year’s contest, leaving less than 15 months for any safeguards to be put in place, legislative or otherwise.

Weighing in last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, became the latest election security advocates to refer to Mr. McConnell as “Moscow Mitch” for refusing to bring the bills to a vote,

Mr. McConnell has denied failing to act on the subject of election security, and he previously accused his critics of engaging in “modern-day McCarthyism” by accusing him of effectively helping Russia.

“As Senate Majority Leader, I have worked closely with the Administration as the executive branch and Congress work together to shore up our defenses,” he wrote in a letter sent earlier this month to the Kentucky secretary of state.

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