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December 19, 2014

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REALITY CHECK:

Republican group’s ad targeting Harry Reid stretches the truth

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American Crossroads, the Republican front group headed by Karl Rove and others, is continuing its campaign against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Here’s its latest ad.

The commercial

The ad opens with a black-and-white image of a man at a dining room table, his head in his hands, as a woman, baby in arms, approaches and pats him on the shoulder. The voice-over begins: “It’s bad enough that Nevada has the highest unemployment in the nation.”

On-screen appears text stating: “ ‘Highest Unemployment in the nation,’ www.bls.gov.” And “ ‘Joblessness … well over 20%,’ Las Vegas Review-Journal, 05/20/10.”

“And Harry Reid claims to be helping the job situation?” the voice-over continues, while a stern Reid is pictured alongside an image from one of his ads and the text “Harry Reid TV ad: ‘No one can do more.’ ”

“Really Harry?” the voice-over says, “Recent data show Nevada ranks 50th in the money received from Harry’s stimulus bill.” That is accompanied by text stating, “Nevada 50th in money received from Harry’s stimulus bill*, Las Vegas Review Journal 2/23/09, *Includes District of Columbia.”

“That’s right. Senate Leader Harry Reid has gotten his own state less help than every other state but one,” the voice-over says, accompanied by text stating: “Harry Reid: Less stimulus money for Nevada than every other state but one, Nevada 50th *Includes District of Columbia.”

The ad ends with the voice-over stating: “And along with bailouts, deficits and Obamacare, that’s what Harry Reid’s done for Nevada. Really Harry. That’s not the kind of help Nevada needs.”

The message

This is an attempt by allies of Sharron Angle to keep the focus on the issue that hurts Reid the most: the economy. And the “Really, Harry” theme is a repeat — and catchy, too.

The reality

What about the facts?

As we found out this week, Nevada still has the highest unemployment rate in the country. No problem there. But that “well over 20 percent” figure?

Really, American Crossroads?

That is attributed to generically labeled “experts” in a May story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Yes, the rate may be substantially higher when certain factors are used. But why not use the tabulated numbers? Isn’t 14 percent bad enough?

Next we hear that “recent data” — remember that phrase — show Nevada ranks 50th in money received from the stimulus.

Recent data? Really, American Crossroads?

That’s from a February 2009 Review-Journal article — a year and a half old. I guess that’s recent if we are talking about the past 25 years. And that story appeared less than a week after President Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill into law.

Really, American Crossroads?

As noted by factcheck.org, which eviscerated the ad, this issue is complex. Nevada is not eligible for certain money because it is so frugal with its Medicaid benefits and has yet to receive any Race to the Top money. On the other hand, ProPublica’s site says Nevada is doing better, but still ranks behind 42 states. And the Reid folks pushed back on the ad, saying Nevada has performed better than 17 states.

Really, Reid people?

That’s the best the majority leader can do? I thought he had juice.

As for the line about bailouts, deficits and Obamacare, we hear that trifecta from Angle’s mouth in almost every speech. Those are buzzwords people hate to hear. But Reid voted for bailouts that increased the deficit and he is responsible for health care reform. He has to wear those.

The ad uses images and numbers to try to refocus the electorate’s attention on Reid and the economy — a winning issue for Angle. But the factual stretches and gross distortions here are egregious. Really. They are.

I give this ad a D.

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