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Senate Candidates Put Their Parents in TV Ads

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Running for office? Better hope that you can at least count on your parents to stand by you.

This year, several candidates for the U.S. Senate are citing their parents in campaign literature or TV ads — especially in voicing their commitment to support Social Security and Medicare.

In two contests, a candidate features a parent in a 30-second broadcast spot.

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In one of her campaign ads, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is seated next to her well-known father, 84-year-old Moon Landrieu, who quickly reviews her policy positions — including fighting “to protect Social Security and Medicare.” When her father asks about her opponent’s views, she replies, “Now, don't get me started.” (Landrieu faces two Republican challengers, Rep. Bill Cassidy and Rob Maness.) The elder Landrieu was the mayor of New Orleans from 1970 to 1978 and later served as President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of housing and urban development.

In an ad for his campaign, Republican Rep. Tom Cotton — who’s challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas — reviews his campaign positions while he empties a grocery bag with his mother in a kitchen. When Cotton says that his legislative action on Social Security and Medicare “protects and preserves benefits for seniors like Mom,” she responds, “I’ve been watching.” After Cotton voices the customary disclaimer that he approved the ad, his mother chimes in, “I do, too.”

And in Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who’s trying to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, unveiled an ad that features her grandmother talking about the financial pressures that came in the wake of her husband’s stroke in 2000 (he died in 2010). Grimes, saying that the family “could barely afford the medicines,” blames McConnell for voting to “raise seniors’ Medicare costs.” (The Associated Press reported, however, that “Grimes comes from a wealthy family.”) McConnell’s campaign countered almost immediately with an ad highlighting how the senator had helped older Kentuckians handle their Medicare bills.

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In other cases, candidates have cited their parents in campaign messages that refer to programs for older Americans.

In a statement issued by the reelection campaign of his son, Mark Pryor (R-Ark.), David Pryor says, “For Mark, it’s always about what’s best for Arkansas, especially when it comes to protecting Medicare and Social Security for our seniors.” David Pryor, 80, was senator from Arkansas from 1979 to 1997 and also served as the state’s governor.

After Joni Ernst, the Republican Senate candidate in Iowa, was criticized by Democrats for her comments that referred to privatizing Social Security, she responded with an ad in which she says, “I care about protecting Social Security for seniors, like my mom and dad.”

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With the public’s approval ratings for Congress at record lows, many Capitol Hill lawmakers face the challenge of finding ways to broaden their support. As Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) likes to joke, “ We’re down to paid staffers and blood relatives.”

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