- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky congressman who drew President Donald Trump’s wrath for trying to stall a coronavirus aid package has released a campaign ad aimed at shoring up support from the president’s fans while his primary challenger seeks to win them over.

The ad shows a past photo of U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie with Trump, both smiling and flashing thumbs-up signs. It also shows Massie chatting with a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.

The ad is part of a tug-of-war between Massie and his Republican primary challenger, Todd McMurtry, since Trump denounced the congressman for trying to stall the $2.2 trillion aid package last month. Trump took to Twitter to brand Massie a “third rate Grandstander” and “a disaster for America” who should be tossed out of the GOP.

The Massie ad, which started airing late last week across Kentucky’s 4th District, portrays the congressman and Trump as being on the same team against Democrats.

“I first ran for Congress because I knew we were in the fight of our lives,” Massie says in the ad. “It’s us against the radical liberals for the future of our country. The more battles you, President Trump and I have won together, the more extreme the left has become.”

McMurtry campaign spokesman Jake Monssen responded that Massie’s ad was “covering up his do-nothing record and his consistent opposition to the Trump agenda.” McMurtry portrays Massie as opposing Trump more frequently than other GOP members of Congress.

McMurtry, an attorney, recently started running his own ad accusing Massie of betraying Trump by opposing the coronavirus bill. McMurtry emphasized his support for the president in the commercial.

The sprawling northern Kentucky district is a conservative area with legions of Trump supporters.

The rescue package is aimed at supporting businesses, directing resources to overburdened health care providers and helping struggling families during the deepening coronavirus crisis that has severely damaged the nation’s economy.

While his effort to slow the historic legislation failed, Massie’s action forced hundreds of lawmakers to return to the nation’s Capitol amid the coronavirus pandemic. Frustrated House members from both parties lashed out at the libertarian-leaning congressman.

Massie, now in his fourth term, has stood his ground in resisting the relief measure, claiming the biggest beneficiaries of the aid will be “big companies and Wall Street and bankers.”

McMurtry says it’s further proof that Massie is out of step with the district and country.

In his ad, Massie also plays up his conservative philosophy and his staunch support for gun rights. The commercial shows Massie working on his farm and giving a gun lesson to his daughter, his campaign said.

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