The Best Sign Yet That Ashley Judd Will Be The Next Senator From Kentucky

Owen Poindexter
Ashley Judd's senate hopes got a boost from an unlikely source: Karl Rove.

Ashley Judd, yes the TV and movie star, is considering a run at Mitch McConnell's Kentucky Senate seat in 2014. While it's a fun idea, it was hard to know if we should take the possibility of her beating the Republican Senate Minority Leader in a state that went for Romney 60-38 over Obama in 2012. But then came this:

Karl Rove's group, American Crossroads, is already running attack ads on her. This is not something you do if you think you have a slam dunk victory. Granted, a $10,000 ad buy is small change to Crossroads, and if they can intimidate Judd out of entering the race, that will save lots of money, but I don't think this ad will have that effect. In fact, I think this ad gives Judd an opening to differentiate herself from the worst of Washington: Karl Rove and the 2-second sound bite culture.

The first second of the ad is a title screen that doesn't last long enough to read, so here it is:

This is a snapshot of everything the ad tries to tie to Judd (except for her ties to Tennessee): that she loves Obama, that she is elitist and doesn't understand Kentucky folk, and that she is a leftist radical. The ad then proceeds to make its case with extremely short sound clips.

Here is what Judd actually says in the ad:

"I am committed to President Obama and Vice President Biden....I think he's a brilliant man....He's now able to flower more, as the president I knew he could be."

On the "flower" line, animated flowers stream across the screen. Looks like Rove is betting on Kentucky voters not being into girly stuff.

"I will go wherever the President wants me to go."

Spoken as a campaign surrogate for Obama's 2012 reelection campaign. It is true that Judd's ties to Obama could be a hard sell in Kentucky.

"And it just clicked, Tennessee is home."

This is the weirdest part of the ad. The "she's not really from here" line is often effective (and sometimes true) in campaigns, so showing the line itself isn't too weird. It's that immediately after, the clip repeats, and the word "Tennessee" is crossed out on the screen and replaced with "Kentucky." Like Judd is trying to cover up her Tennessee connections, but they didn't have a clip of that, so they showed a simulated version of a cover-up.

"Obamacare has done so much for us right here in Tennessee."

It will be really interesting to see how Obamacare plays in 2014. It was such a pariah in 2010, but by 2014 the law will have mostly taken effect, and people will see firsthand what it does. Whether that will make people angry all over again, soften them toward it or what is an open question.

"I got radical--aggressively and delightfully radical."

These are my own transcriptions, and I'm not sure about "aggressively" there. Could be "progressively." Anyway, I wonder what percent of viewers will appreciate how there is zero context provided here.

"I don't know about a hillbillies who golf."

You know how I said the Tennessee-Kentucky thing was the weirdest part? That wasn't true. This is by far the weirdest part. First of all: zero context. We have no idea where she is, what she's talking about, if this is a joke (probably), what it's a joke about. But the really weird thing is the visual: a, well, hillbillyish woman holding a rifle, and then a shot of some place called "Hillbilly golf." It's maybe one step from showing a picture of Judd, and then a picture of a swarm of rats.

For her part, Judd took the "all publicity is good publicity" route in responding to the ad:

“Ashley thanks Senator McConnell, Karl Rove, and their negative allies for all the attention as she considers her future political plans, although a decision hasn’t been made yet," her publicist wrote in an email.

I know it's just an opening shot, and not from McConnell's campaign, but if I were Judd, I would look at this ad, and I say, "I can beat these guys, and I want to beat these guys." Toss in the fact that McConnell will probably first have to fend off a primary from a Tea Partier, and, well this one should provide an increasingly entertaining 21 months.