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FIRST ON FOX: With the average nationwide price of gas now over $5 per gallon, the Senate Republican re-election committee is targeting Democrats in two crucial general election battleground states over the soaring prices at the pumps.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) on Friday is launching a seven-figure ad blitz in Nevada criticizing first-term Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, and in Pennsylvania taking aim at Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic Senate nominee. The ads, shared first with Fox News on Friday, link both candidates to President Biden, whose approval ratings remain underwater.
“When Joe Biden was elected, gas cost $2.43. Biden started choking oil production his very first day. Now five bucks a gallon. John Fetterman backs Biden and parts of the Green New Deal,” the narrator in the NRSC spot running in Pennsylvania states.
The spot then uses an audio clip of Fetterman saying “I’m proud to run on the same ticket as Joe Biden,” before the narrator argues that “you’re out of gas. Biden’s out of time. Fetterman’s out of the question.”
The NRSC says they’re spending $1.12 million to run the commercial on TV through June 30, with an additional $215,000 to put the ad up on digital.
Fetterman is running against Republican nominee Mehmet Oz, the cardiac surgeon, author and well-known celebrity physician who until the launch of his Senate campaign late last year was host of TV’s popular “Dr. Oz Show.” The winner of the November election will succeed retiring GOP Sen. Pat Toomey in the key battleground state in a race that is one of handful across the country that may determine if the Republicans win back the Senate majority in this year’s midterm elections.
Another crucial race that could decide which party controls the Senate going forward is in Nevada. Cortez Masto, a former state attorney general and Nevada’s first Latina senator, is facing a challenge from Republican nominee Adam Laxalt, who succeeded Cortez Masto as state attorney general and is the grandson of former governor and senator Paul Laxalt.
“In Nevada, gas and grocery prices are out of control. The cause: President Biden’s wasteful spending bill,” the narrator in the ad asserts. “And Catherine Cortez Masto cast the deciding vote. In fact, she votes with Biden over 95% of the time. She votes with him. We pay the price. Time to cast the deciding vote against Catherine Cortez Masto.”
The NRSC says they’re spending $1.3 million to run English and Spanish language versions of commercial on TV through June 30, with an additional $300,000 digital buy.
The Senate is split 50/50 between the two major parties, but the Democrats control the majority thanks the tie breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris through her Constitutional role as president of the Senate. The Republicans need net gain of just one seat to retake the majority.
Republicans have been hammering the president and congressional Democrats over rising inflation since last year and over skyrocketing gas prices since early this year. The GOP for nearly a year has blamed the worst inflation in decades on the massive coronavirus pandemic spending package passed last year by the Democratic congressional majorities and signed into law by the president. And they argue that Biden’s moves to reduce domestic oil exploration in a push to advance the nation towards a green economy to combat climate change is a contributing factor behind soaring gas prices.
President Biden speaks about inflation and supply chain issues at the Port of Los Angeles, Friday, June 10, 2022, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
The president has repeatedly blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine this winter — and the retaliatory move by the U.S. and much of Europe to ban Russian oil imports — for the record high gas prices.
And Biden’s also pointed fingers at the major American oil producers such at ExxonMobil for what the president termed a failure to increase supply to reduce prices.
The Democrats’ Senate and House re-election committees have blamed congressional Republicans for the pain at the pumps, saying their GOP counterparts are playing politics and siding with wealthy corporations.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesperson Nora Keefe told Fox News that “Senate Democrats are fighting address working families’ most pressing priorities like lowering costs, cutting taxes, and cracking down on corporate greed – and these false ads won’t distract voters from GOP Senate candidates’ allegiance to big oil companies that are raking in record profits while raising prices on hard-working Americans.”
Paul Steinhauser is a politics reporter based in New Hampshire.