Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Henrico) continues to insist that he is not paying much attention to his upcoming primary fight against Randolph Macon professor Dr. David Brat, but a few recent moves suggest otherwise.
Cantor last night launched an attack ad against Brat, mocking his profession and accusing his challenger of helping former Governor Tim Kaine (D) propose a significant tax increase on the Virginia citizens.
First, here is a look at the ad:
In addition to the ad, the Cantor campaign unveiled a website designed to paint Brat as a liberal college professor not the conservative crusader he claims to be.
The attack line is not a new one from Cantor. His team sent out a fundraising e-mail shortly after Brat announced describing him as a liberal and tying him to Kaine. However this is the first public and targeting attack against Brat and one designed to specifically reach out to conservative primary voters who will go to the polls on June 10th. The ad was seen last night during the 10pm hour of Fox News Channel.
Brat called the Cantor ad an outright lie. He never served on a "Council of Economic Advisors" as the ad claims and he also said he never recommended that Kaine raise taxes to balance the budget during the economic downturn at the end of 2009 into 2010.
"Eric Cantor is out of control on this one," Brat said in an e-mail. " This is why I am running. DC has corrupted our language and our truth and our political system."
According to the website designed to support the ad, the Cantor campaign shows the resolution where Brat was appointed to serve on Cantor's "Board of Economists" in 2006. The web site then follows up with several Kaine moves as governor that occurred while Brat served on that board.
At no point is there any direct evidence that Brat supported Kaine's effort to raise taxes. The web site and the ad simply claim Brat made no effort to publicly rebut Kaine's plans.
But perhaps more important is the effort by the Cantor team to engage and specifically target Brat. In a recent interview with me, Cantor went out of his way not to acknowledge his primary opponent. To spend money directly attacking him in a primary indicates the House Majority Leader is taking no chances.
The ad and web site are not paid for by a third party group, they come directly from "Cantor for Congress."
Cantor is not one to underestimate any opponent. He has a substantial campaign coffer and is not afraid to spend money on advertising and campaign staff even when his opponents are considered lightweights. Usually though, his ads are all positive and tout his accomplishments. It is rare for him to take a direct hit on a challenger.
Meanwhile Brat continues to push Cantor to meet him face to face in a debate. Something the Cantor campaign remains resistant to.