Labrador ad tries to tie Minnick, Pelosi

BOISE - Idaho GOP congressional hopeful Raul Labrador on Tuesday launched a TV ad trying to portray Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick as a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama, but “blue-dog” Minnick actually has voted far more often with House GOP Leader John Boehner than with Pelosi.

Minnick’s campaign called Labrador’s ad, his first, “false” and “misleading” and demanded that he pull it; Labrador’s campaign said it stands by the ad.

“Minnick voted with Obama/Pelosi over 70 percent,” the ad claims, citing as its source, a project of the Participatory Politics Foundation that tracks all congressional votes. That site shows that Minnick voted with his party, the Democrats, 74 percent of the time. But it also shows that he voted with fellow Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican, 77 percent of the time, and with Boehner 78 percent of the time.

Minnick voted with Pelosi just 57 percent of the time; the House speaker often doesn’t cast a vote. Many of the roll-call votes in Congress are unanimous.

“He voted with his party, and the head of that party is his president and Pelosi,” said Phil Hardy, Labrador’s campaign spokesman. “We can’t speak to how other people vote. We’re speaking about how he votes.”

The ad, which began airing in the Boise area on Tuesday and will be on cable TV in other parts of the state, attacks Minnick on immigration, federal stimulus spending and “Obamacare” health care reform - though Minnick voted against both the stimulus bill and the health care reform bill, bucking his party on two of its signature proposals.

The ad says of Minnick, “Voted for $68 billion in more stimulus, and Minnick won’t commit to repealing Obamacare. Bottom line, Minnick’s hiding his liberal Obama/Pelosi record.”

Minnick voted against both the economic stimulus bill, HR 1, and the health-care reform bill, HR 3590. He was one of just 11 House Democrats to oppose the House version of the stimulus bill in February of 2009, and one of just seven to oppose the final version. He was one of 34 House Democrats to vote against the health-care reform bill.

The ad cites two other bills to back its stimulus claim, HR 1586, a state-aid bill for schools and Medicaid that was signed into law Aug. 10, and HR 5297, a measure establishing a small-business lending fund. Minnick voted for HR 1586, and he successfully pushed an amendment to HR 5297 to make non-owner occupied commercial real estate loans eligible for the program.

Hardy said, “The use of the word ‘stimulus’ now is a catch-all, even by the media, for continued efforts to prop up the economy by the president and the Pelosi agenda.” He called both the school/Medicaid funding bill and the small-business lending fund bill “all stimulus,” and said, “It’s all a culture of spending that Raul Labrador does not support at all.”

Minnick also is a cosponsor of a Republican bill to repeal a section of the health care bill, regarding a record-keeping requirement for small businesses, and has backed repealing other sections as well.

John Foster, Minnick’s campaign spokesman, called Labrador’s new ad “little more than a spurious collection of innuendo and outright lies.”

Jim Weatherby, Boise State University political scientist, said, “Certainly you could argue over the accuracy of some of the claims.” But, he said, “Based upon all the polling I’ve seen, Labrador is behind - he has to go after his opponent.”

Late Tuesday, Minnick launched two new ads, one on veterans’ issues and the other faulting Labrador’s record on state domestic violence legislation.

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