(Host) Republican Senate candidate Jack McMullen blames incumbent Senator Patrick Leahy for costing Vermont jobs and for adding to the atmosphere of incivility in Washington. McMullen makes the charges in a series of radio ads that were launched this week.
VPR’s John Dillon reports
(Ad narrator) “Anybody who thinks Pat Leahy is the best person to represent Vermont’s interest in Washington doesn’t know Jack. Jack McMullen, that is.”
(Dillon) In the ads, McMullen tries to play off his low name recognition among Vermont voters. One ad also cites the now-infamous encounter between Leahy and Vice President Dick Cheney in which Leahy greeted the vice president on the Senate floor and Cheney responded with an obscenity.
But the McMullen attempts to put the blame on Leahy.
(Ad narrator) “Pat Leahy? When I heard what he and the vice president said to each other, it was clear to me that man just doesn’t get along with people down there. I think that’s a big reason our farmers lost the Dairy Compact.”
(Dillon) McMullen says Leahy projects a genial image in Vermont, but is known as a partisan infighter in Washington. He says the state would be better off with a senator who can get along with the opposite party.
(McMullen) “Certainly the vice president wasn’t very civil in that either. But it’s reflective of the kind of atmosphere he’s engendered about himself. In fact, what he was doing when that exchange occurred was publicly extending a hand of friendship to the vice president. But the vice president, I believe, understood that he was trying to get him indicted behind the scenes. And it’s that kind of duplicity that causes bad feelings down there.”
(Dillon) Leahy campaign manager Carolyn Dwyer says it’s bizarre that McMullen would try to use the Cheney incident to boost his Vermont Senate campaign. And she says it’s wrong to blame Leahy for the demise of the dairy compact.
(Dwyer) “It was actually the Bush administration who opposed vigorously the extension of the dairy compact and as always nonsense. Senator Leahy, Senator Jeffords and Congressman Sanders worked as hard as they could to cut the best deal for the Vermont agricultural community.”
(Dillon) A second McMullen ad blames Leahy for not doing enough to create jobs in Vermont. A third, set to air in a few weeks, focuses on security issues.
(Ad narrator) “Jack has a top secret Q clearance from the government, which means you know you can trust him. Pat Leahy? He has no military experience and even had to resign from the Senate Intelligence Committee after improperly leaking sensitive material.”
(Dillon) Leahy stepped down from the Intelligence Committee in 1987. McMullen, a Navy veteran, acknowledged at his news conference that his own security clearance expired 30 years ago.
McMullen faces two challengers in the Republican primary this September.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.