TIME 2016 presidential election

Kasich Campaign Repudiates Own Super PAC’s Ad Attacking Rubio

Violence Against Women Act attack backfires over use of New Hampshire senator

Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign is renouncing a new attack ad by its super PAC against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio that targets his vote against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

The group, New Day for America, released a new 30-second television ad in New Hampshire on Monday featuring Sen. Kelly Ayotte at a press conference highlighting the importance of the legislation to preventing and prosecuting incidences of domestic violence and other crimes against women.

“78 senators, including every female senator, supported the Violence Against Women Act,” the ad states, setting up the attack. “Who voted against it? Marco Rubio.”

In a statement, Connie Wehrkamp, New Day For America spokeswoman, said the spot was a counter-attack to alleged Rubio-backed efforts against Kasich in the Granite State, where the pair are locked in a close fight with Jeb Bush and Chris Christie for support among moderate-minded voters. “This was actually one of the few votes that Senator Marco Rubio showed up for, but he voted no and is going to have a tough time explaining to New Hampshire voters why he turned his back on women,” she said. “When John Kasich was in Congress, he voted twice to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.”

But Kasich strategist John Weaver called on the outside group to pull the ad in a series of tweets Monday, with the incident becoming an embarrassment for the Kasich campaign just over a week before the New Hampshire primary.

In a statement in 2013 explaining his vote, Rubio said he would have supported reauthorizing the then-existing bill, but objected to new provisions included in the legislation. “This bill would mandate the diversion of a portion of funding from domestic violence programs to sexual assault programs, although there’s no evidence to suggest this shift will result in a greater number of convictions,” he said in the statement.

In a statement Monday, Ayotte condemned the Kasich group for politicizing the issue, while Kasich strategist John Weaver penned a cryptic tweet hinting the campaign was upset with the ad, “Sometimes your friends think they’re helping but are not,” he wrote.

New Day for America announced later Monday morning that it had pulled the spot, replacing it with one contrasting Kasich’s message with his rivals’ focus on doom-and-gloom. “We have replaced the ad highlighting Senator Marco Rubio’s vote against the Violence Against Women Act with ‘Sunrise,’ which appropriately captures the optimism of Governor Kasich’s campaign,” said Wehrkamp.

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