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Does Ashley Judd scare Mitch McConnell? (+video)

Sen. Mitch McConnell's first campaign ad criticizes his reelection opponents, including Ashley Judd. Recent statewide polls show waning support for the minority leader.

By Staff Writer / February 19, 2013

Actress Ashley Judd reads off the Tennessee vote totals at the Democratic National Convention in September. Judd's statements that 'Tennessee is home,' shown in a campaign ad for Sen. Mitch McConnell, may be problematic if she decides to challenge McConnell for the Kentucky Senate seat in 2014.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters/File

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Washington

Is Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell just a bit worried about the prospect of running for reelection to 2014 against actress/activist Ashley Judd?

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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American Crossroads launches a pre-emptive strike against Ashley Judd running for the Senate in Kentucky.

We ask that question because the senior senator from Kentucky put up his first campaign ad today and it goes after Ms. Judd and three other possible Democratic challengers pretty hard. She’s not the only person mentioned, but she gets more than her share of the three-minute spot, and it ends with her speaking. Not that it’s putting her words in a positive light, of course.

The ad is called “Obama’s Kentucky Candidate,” and it’s pretty clever. The premise is that the president is holding some sort of town hall meeting to pick Senator McConnell’s opponent, and he goes from one person to the next, trying to find the chosen one. The video editing is clever and the whole thing looks quite real.

First up is Ed Marksberry, a former congressional candidate depicted by the ad as a yokel. Then there’s former US Ambassador to Sweden Matthew Barzun, shown marching in full top-hatted regalia in some sort of European parade. “He’s looking very sharp,” says Obama in a voice-over cut from a real town hall.

Then Obama calls on “the young lady with the pink, white blouse right there.... Wait until the microphone comes up. Introduce yourself.”

Next thing you know, there’s Judd standing at the podium at last year’s Democratic convention, saying, “From the Volunteer State, I proudly stand to nominate ...”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” goes Obama in the reaction shot, cut to make it appear as if he disapproves. In case you missed the subtlety there, Tennessee is the Volunteer State. That’s where Judd has been living with her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Dario Franchitti. She was a Democratic National Convention delegate from Tennessee, not from Kentucky. The ad goes on to make that abundantly clear, alternating shots of her saying “Tennessee is home” with appearances from another possible candidate, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, as well as a host of popular state Democrats saying they won’t run.

Why is McConnell running this ad so early? Why did Karl Rove’s American Crossroads pay for an online spot hitting Judd alone?

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