Two Republican outside groups are joining forces to attack Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton on her record in Syria, an attempt by some in the party to refocus attention on the general election as GOP candidates continue to squabble.
The new group Future 45, a super PAC funded by some of the country’s largest GOP donors, including hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer, is set to launch ads this week that criticize Clinton’s efforts to work with Syrian leader Bashar Assad. The spots will also be targeted to online users in New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and Colorado starting Tuesday morning.
“Hundreds of thousands dead, terrorists on the march,” says a female voice narrating the 30-second ad. “Where did it go wrong? In 2009 Hillary Clinton led the engagement with Assad.”
“Clinton was wrong about Assad,” according to the ad, which features grainy footage of Islamic State fighters roving around urban areas in pickup trucks. “Hillary Clinton, bad judgment, deadly consequences.”
Watch: TV ad
The Republican super PAC America Rising provided the research for the spots, and will post a 1,400-word article on Medium on Tuesday supporting the message and outlining five ways in which Clinton’s “failed policies” contributed to the current crisis in Syria.
With the GOP contest unsettled, Republican outside groups are trying to move voters’ focus to Clinton, who is dominating in the Democratic contest and has faced practically no attack ads from her primary opponents.
Meanwhile, top Republican candidates are treating her as an afterthought, reserving their sharpest attacks for one another. Monday afternoon was a prime example: Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s bombshell policy proposal that the US close its borders to all Muslims prompted Republican leaders to spend the evening denouncing his ideas.
Republican operatives who are focused on the general election have long believed Clinton’s record as secretary of state is fertile ground for attacks. That view has intensified given the focus on foreign policy in the wake of the Paris terror attacks and last week’s mass shooting in California.
The Islamic State grew in power, gobbling up swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq on President Obama’s watch as the governments in both countries faltered. In Syria, the lengthy civil war has contributed to the rise of the group.
Clinton has highlighted some areas where she and President Obama disagreed on policy toward Syria. She wanted to arm moderate rebels fighting Assad, but was overruled. She’s also called for a no-fly zone over portions of Syria to bolster factions fighting his regime.