GOP Ad Says Sen. Joe Manchin (D-Hell No) Owns a ‘Luxury Yacht’. Is That Right?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Axios Sneak Peek, when I came across this item by Josh Kraushaar.

The NRSC [National Republican Senatorial Committee] is out with a new direct mail and digital ad campaign portraying Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) as a Davos-trekking elitist, firing the first of many shots to come ahead of a potential re-election campaign . . .

Why it matters: Manchin, who hasn’t announced what he plans to do in 2024, is the only Democrat who can realistically hold a Senate seat in one of the most conservative states in the country.

The ad also says Manchin drives a Maserati and owns a $700,000 luxury yacht.

Is that why the boat’s named “Almost Heaven”?

– Almost Heavin’

Dear Ms. Heavin’,

Republicans would like nothing better than to hound Joe Manchin into retirement, since they’re desperate for his Senate seat.

Here’s the ad they hope will facilitate his exit, and please enjoy the narrator’s British accent, which is supposed to echo the voice of Robin Leach, late of the venerable Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

Let’s do some fact-checking, shall we?

• For starters, it’s true that Manchin attended the World Economic Forum in Davos this month, a turn on the big stage that was largely notable for the high-five he shared with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Me Mine) over preserving  the Senate filibuster – something we thought  the NRSC [checks notes]  would totally dig. Guess not.

• It’s also true that Manchin owns a Maserati, for which he’s previously taken grief from climate change activists and Brian Williams. But isn’t owning a luxury car part of the American dream, which we thought Republicans [checks notes] have always touted? Guess not.

• It is not true that Manchin owns a “$700,000 D.C. luxury yacht,” as Andrew Beaujon noted two years ago in Washingtonian.

It’s not a yacht. Republicans tried to paint Manchin as yacht-owning “Washington Joe” during his 2018 reelection campaign. Mmmm, not quite: “The vessel is listed as ‘recreational’ on documents,” PolitiFact wrote in a fact-check. “However, a less confrontational—but similarly accurate—description could be ‘houseboat,’ since it is Manchin’s residence in Washington.”

P.S. The source the NRSC cites for the “luxury yacht” designation – 100 Days in Appalachia – is a known right-wing propaganda machine.

• Finally, the NRSC spot proclaims that “Life is very good for Democrat Joe Manchin while West Virginians get stuck with higher prices, smaller paychecks, and open borders . . . Tell Maserati Manchin it’s time to stand up for West Virginians.”

Not to get technical about it, but check out this graphic from Jonathan V. Last’s Triad newsletter at The Bulwark.

See that deep blue blotch straddling Virginia and Kentucky? That’s blood-red West Virginia, baby!  The Mountain State gets back $3.09 for every tax dollar it ponies up to the feds.

If you don’t think Joe Manchin has had a lot to do with that, you just haven’t been paying attention.

Is Rick Scott’s New TV Spot Meant to Give Mitch McConnell the Finger?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Punchbowl News, when I came across this item by Jake Sherman.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), the former chair of the NRSC, is running an ad nationwide touting his race against Mitch McConnell for Republican leader and his 11-point plan, which became a widely used Democratic talking point.

The new spot is running in D.C., New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

Scott is up for re-election in Florida in 2024, but this ad isn’t running in Florida, according to AdImpact. This is sure to raise lots of eyebrows in Senate GOP circles.

It sure raised mine, Doc. What the hell’s that all about?

– Scot Free

Dear Mr. Free,

Let’s begin at the beginning.

Last March, Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R-Largest Medicare Fraud in U.S. History) introduced his 11-point Plan to Rescue America, as Jonathan Weisman reported in the New York Times.

WASHINGTON — Senator Rick Scott of Florida, the somewhat embattled head of the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, said one utterly indisputable thing on Thursday when he stood before a packed auditorium of supporters at the conservative Heritage Foundation: His plan for a G.O.P. majority would make everyone angry at him, Republicans included.

It was an odd admission for the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. His leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has repeatedly told Mr. Scott to pipe down about his “11-Point Plan to Rescue America,” with its call to impose income taxes on more than half of Americans who pay none now, and to sunset all legislation after five years, presumably including Social Security and Medicare.

According to this CNN report by  and ther proposals in Scott’s plan included “ending imports from China, cutting the federal government workforce by 25% and building a wall on the US-Mexico border and naming it after former President Donald Trump.”

As everyone except Rick Scott could have told you, the whole thing went over like the metric system.

Especially lathered up was Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-I’m de captain here!), as he made clear at a press conference reported by CNN.

“Let me tell you what would not be a part of our agenda,” McConnell said. “We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people, and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”

Apparently undaunted by the widespread backlash he encountered at the time and his subsequent beatdown by McConnell in last fall’s Senate leadership bakeoff, Scott has doubled down with his current TV spot.

Here’s his pitch, annotated for your convenience.

People told me not to run for Republican leader against Mitch McConnell. They said I wouldn’t win. (Duh)

I knew it was gonna be hard. (As in, impossible)

But we gotta start somewhere. (Too bad Rick Scott is currently nowhere)

Look – we’re on the road to woke socialism. (His proof: A screenshot of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)

And Republicans are just a speed bump. (Not even that smart, honestly)

We can’t keep doing the same old thing. It’s time for Republicans to be bold, to speak the truth, and to stop caving in. (The way Mitch McConnell keeps doing)

Help us change our party – join us at RescueAmerica.com. (Please give me money so I can run more noodleheaded ads like this one)

I’m Rick Scott. I approve this message. (Of course you do)

Scott is spending a reported seven figures on the national ad buy, which truly makes you wonder why he doesn’t just set his money on fire.

Meanwhile, Politico Playbook PM reports that a new ad campaign has been launched by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, whose chairman until 12 days ago was [checks notes] Rick Scott.

2024 WATCH — “‘Retire or get fired’: Senate GOP campaign committee targets Manchin, red-state Democrats with ad campaign,” by Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser: “The ad campaign from the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), titled ‘Retire or Get Fired,’ takes aim at Trump-state Democratic Sens. JOE MANCHIN of West Virginia, JON TESTER of Montana and SHERROD BROWN of Ohio over what the NRSC calls their ‘liberal records’ and ties the senators to President Joe Biden.” Watch the Manchin adWatch the Tester adWatch the Brown ad

Here’s the Tester ad.

Inconveniently for the NRSC, Morning Consult’s Eli Yokley just reported that “60% of Montana voters approve of Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, making him the most popular incumbent expected to face a competitive 2024 contest.”

So maybe not the wisest use of the NRSC’s money.

The Doc’s diagnosis: It’s hard to imagine that those NRSC ads came together in the past two weeks, which means they probably represent more of Rick Scott’s handiwork. If so, the logical conclusion would be a) he has four middle fingers, and b) none of them are very flippin’ effective.

Or is our analysis for the birds . . .

Who in Their Right Mind Would Label Kathy Barnette a ‘Woke Republican’?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Punchbowl News AM, when I came across this item about an ad attacking Kathy Barnette, a super-Trumpy candidate in the Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary.

USA Freedom Fund, which is funded, at least in part, by Club for Growth Action, has a new ad running in Pittsburgh slamming Kathy Barnette for being a “woke Republican” who wants to build a statue of former President Barack Obama. This is ironic since Barnette has a long history of attacking Obama, including repeated false accusations that he’s a Muslim.

What the hell, Doc – are we totally through the looking glass at this point?

– GOPsmacked

Dear GOPsmacked,

We’re not just through the looking glass, we’re deep into Queen of Hearts Off With Their Heads territory.

That’s what’s going on in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary right now. Medical fraud Mehmet Oz (the Doc, of all people, should know) and MAGA fraud Dave McCormick have spent a combined $28 million on ads blowtorching one another, as WHYY’s Katie Meyer has reported.

[McCormick] has raised nearly $16 million — $11 million was a loan from himself — and spent more than $14 million, chiefly on big ad buys.

That doesn’t count money from Honor Pennsylvania, a super PAC spending on McCormick’s behalf — primarily funding ads attacking Oz. The PAC has spent more than $11 million . . .

[Oz has] loaned himself more than $12 million, and he’s pulled in another $3 million or so from donors. He’s also supported by a PAC, American Leadership Action, that has spent nearly $3.5 million to oppose McCormick.

Also like McCormick, Oz has spent around $14 million, primarily on ads.

It’s a campaign classic: 1) Candidate A spends all his time telling voters Candidate B is a bum. 2) Candidate B returns the favor. 3) Voters believe them both and turn to Candidate C. (See Carol Moseley Braun’s improbable 1992 U.S. Senate victory in Illinois for further details.)

Candidate C in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate race is Kathy Barnette, “a conservative Christian commentator with a history of advocating, among other things, that the U.S. reject Muslim immigrants and that abortion be completely banned. She’s also a high-profile proponent of baseless voter fraud theories, and is running to the right of the rest of the field,” according to Meyer.

Beyond that, Barnette is surging in the polls, despite having spent a paltry $137,000 on campaign ads so far and despite Donald Trump’s endorsement of Oz. New York Times reporter Jennifer Medina captured the current dynamic in this piece.

Many voters said they were choosing who they believed would carry out Mr. Trump’s ideals, even if they and the former president disagreed on who could best accomplish that. And interviews showed how effectively Ms. Barnette, who has never held public office, had used her life story as a poor, Black child of the South to connect with white working-class voters in western Pennsylvania. At events and in her ads, Ms. Barnette often invokes the phrase “I am you.”

Other conservatives, however, are attacking Barnette. The super PAC USA Freedom Fund is running this ad accusing her of being a “woke Republican” for proposing a statue of Barack Obama in D.C.

PolitiFact has labeled the ad “mostly true.”

[USA Freedom Fund] claimed “Kathy Barnette wants to build a statue of Barack Obama right next to the one of Abraham Lincoln on Capitol Hill.”

Barnette said she did propose a statue of Obama and his family, but she never voted for him, or backed his policies. Her idea was to use three statues to show how far Black people have come since the time of slavery.

The statement is accurate but needs clarification. We rate this claim Mostly True.

But the “woke Republican” label is a joke, given Barnette’s anti-Muslim, homophobic, Big Lie track record.

Seriously