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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The temperatures may be sub-freezing right now, but the race for U.S. Senate in Kentucky heated up this week.
Sen. Mitch McConnell has just released his first campaign ad of the election year, and even though it is not an attack ad, it has touched off a media war.
The ad features Robert Pierce, a former worker at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, who got cancer after exposure to radiation.
He thanks McConnell for coming to his aid.
"He knocked down walls for us. He helped save people's lives," Pierce said in the ad.
"I think the ad was very powerful," said political consultant and PR pro Bob Gunnell.
He says the ad does two things; it shores up McConnell's western Kentucky base and portrays him as caring.
"I think he's got to spend a lot of money softening his image, especially against a female candidate," said Gunnell.
And Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes' campaign responded quickly.
The Grimes camp released a three-minute web ad, featuring a man from eastern Kentucky who said McConnell has done nothing for his part of the state.
"Mitch McConnell came into Harlan County, he talked for a few minutes, and got on his bus and he went on his way. We haven't seen him since," said David Kennedy in the video.
Gunnell says Grimes has to win eastern Kentucky, despite efforts to tie her to Pres. Obama's so-called war on coal.
"So she is trying to say that Sen. McConnell's out of touch. And she's using an issue that 99-percent of political pundits would tell her not to go after, which is coal. But here's a coal miner saying that she's going to be good for coal," said Gunnell.
And not to be outdone, McConnell's primary opponent, Matt Bevin, has released a radio spot saying, after 30 years, it's time for a change.
The ad noted that when Mitch was first elected to the Senate, the Cosby Show was brand new.
Gunnell says McConnell's response to Bevin will depend on the polls.
"If he turns on Bevin, then I would say to you, privately, there's worry, and the race has tightened," he said.
One thing is certain. Between well-funded candidates, and third-party special interest groups, the airwaves will be filled with millions of dollars worth of ads over the next few months.