Democratic attack ads aim to save Senate majority

Mitt Romney and Franki Roberts, wife of Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, shared the stage at the Prairie Fire shopping center in Overland Park, Kan., on Monday.
Mitt Romney and Franki Roberts, wife of Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas, shared the stage at the Prairie Fire shopping center in Overland Park, Kan., on Monday. Julie Denesha/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Their majority in jeopardy, Senate Democrats unleashed a late-campaign round of attack ads Monday accusing Republicans in key races of harboring plans to cut Social Security and Medicare.

The commercials in New Hampshire, Iowa, Louisiana, and elsewhere appear aimed at older voters, who cast ballots in relatively large numbers in midterm elections and have tended to support Republicans in recent years.

One ad, airing in Iowa, shows Republican candidate Joni Ernst on videotape saying, ‘‘Yes, I have talked about privatizing Social Security.’’

Another, which began appearing in New Hampshire during the day, says that while Scott Brown was a senator from Massachusetts he voted to ‘‘cut Medicare and Social Security while giving tax breaks to millionaires and oil companies.’’


Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for Ernst, countered the ad’s assertion, saying that the ‘‘Democratic attacks on Social Security are as predictable as they are false.’’ Jennifer Horn, Republican chairwoman in New Hampshire, said that Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Brown’s opponent, ‘‘cast the deciding vote for Obamacare that cuts Medicare by $716 billion.’’

The televised attack ads, financed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, come with little over a week remaining until elections that will test whether Republicans can win control of the Senate for the final two years of President Obama’s term. The GOP is also hoping to pad its majority in the House. Thirty-six states will elect governors.

Obama’s weak approval ratings have buoyed Republicans in numerous states, and Democrats are counting on a costly get-out-the-vote operation to save their Senate majority. GOP candidates must gain at least six seats to win a majority in the Senate that convenes in January.

Officials at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced the new ads relating to Social Security and Medicare in Iowa, Louisiana, and New Hampshire, in addition to one that began airing last week in Arkansas.


Separately, the Senate Majority PAC, an organization that backs Senate Democrats, is showing a commercial in Kentucky that says Republic leader Mitch McConnell ‘‘voted to privatize Social Security, gamble trust fund money in the stock market’’ where “40 percent of it could have been lost’’ in the stock market decline that began in 2008.

Allison Moore, a spokeswoman for McConnell, said his campaign views the ad as inaccurate and is appealing to television stations to stop running it.

Republicans said the campaign attacks would fail.

Carl Forti, political director of American Crossroads, which has spent millions supporting Republican candidates, said, ‘‘Incumbent Democrats have been getting pounded for over a year for voting for Obamacare, which cuts Medicare by hundreds of millions of dollars and Medicare Advantage as well.’’

‘‘Millions of votes have already been cast around the country. It’s a little too late for Democrats to try and muddy the waters by attacking Republicans for cutting Medicare,’’ he said.

In the most recent midterm election, 2010, voters 65 and over accounted for 21 percent of all ballots. Two years ago, that percentage declined to 16 percent.

In both years, older voters supported Republicans over Democrats. They preferred Mitt Romney over Obama by 56-44 percent two years ago, according to interviews with voters leaving their polling places. In 2010 they gave 59 percent of their votes to Republican congressional candidates and only 38 to Democrats, according to a similar survey.

Romney campaigned in Kansas on Monday for Senator Pat Roberts’s reelection, portraying a vote for his independent challenger as a vote for Obama.


Bob Dole, a former Senate majority leader and presidential nominee, joined Romney and Roberts Monday at an upscale Overland Park restaurant and bowling emporium.

Roberts is in a tough race with independent candidate and Olathe businessman Greg Orman.