By Sam Youngman
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker wrote Tuesday that Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes overstated the number of times Mitch McConnell has blocked Senate action in an online advertisement released Monday.
The “Fire” ad, which features a burning house, compares McConnell’s role in ending the federal government shutdown to an arsonist who takes credit for putting out a fire he started. The ad goes on to claim that McConnell blocked the Senate more than 400 times.
But the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler noted that the Grimes campaign relied on a news article that misinterpreted Senate rules to come up with the figure. The Post said a more accurate count of times McConnell has blocked Senate action since becoming minority leader in 2007 would be 120.
During former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle’s eight years as minority leader, Democrats blocked 143 Senate actions, according to the article.
The mix-up between a filibuster and cloture means that a number of the actions Grimes is attributing to McConnell were actually actions taken by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“The Grimes campaign, in a statement, noted that The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘block’ as ‘an obstacle to the normal progress or functioning of something’ and to ‘make the movement or flow in (a passage, pipe, road, etc.) difficult or impossible,’” Kessler wrote. “So the campaign argued that ‘blocking’ is more than when cloture fails, as any filibuster is an ‘obstacle to normal progress.’”
Kessler added this statement from the campaign: “While you might have other reasonable interpretations of the facts and words involved, our campaign has certainly provided accurate information to the people of Kentucky.”
He concludes the ad is worth Three Pinocchios — significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions — arguing that the Democrat’s campaign “made an elemental error in not understanding the difference between ‘filibusters’ and ‘blocking’ action in the Senate.”
Meanwhile, McConnell released a web video of his own Tuesday morning, seeking praise for his role in the negotiations that ended the government shutdown and extended the debt ceiling.
The ad, entitled “Leading America,” features a number of Washington pundits crediting McConnell with helping to end the impasse.
“While everyone else was talking, one man from Kentucky was leading,” the text of the ad says over images of Grimes.