The Truth Needle: A recent TV ad linking gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna to positions of the national Republican Party is mostly false.
The claim: Our Washington, an independent group supporting Democrat Jay Inslee, recently released its third TV ad claiming that Inslee’s gubernatorial opponent, Republican Rob McKenna, is “not who he says he is.” In this ad, a narrator says that while McKenna claims he’s a moderate, the national Republican Party wants to “make abortion illegal, restrict women’s contraception, cut education, essentially end Medicare and deny nearly 13 million women access to cancer screening.”
What we found: Mostly false.
This is one of those cases where the exact words may approach the truth, but the impression they leave is misleading.
The fact is, according to their own recently adopted party platform, national Republicans do want to cut some college financial aid and make abortion illegal.
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But McKenna doesn’t.
The state attorney general is actually basing much of his campaign on increasing education funding by capping other state government spending and growing the economy.
And while McKenna is personally opposed to abortion, he says he supports a woman’s right to choose and has made it clear he will not push to make the procedure illegal.
The ad’s other claims are more complicated, but mostly follow a similar pattern.
According to Our Washington, the contraception and cancer-screening points are related to President Obama’s signature health-care overhaul, which made it easier for women to access both.
Nationally, Republicans want to repeal that law. And McKenna did join with 25 other attorneys general in unsuccessfully suing to overturn it. But he has said he does not favor full repeal, and he doesn’t list contraception and cancer screenings among the parts he opposes.
“Essentially ending Medicare,” again according to Our Washington, comes from a budget proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, and approved by House Republicans, that would turn Medicare into a voucher system.
Whether that would “essentially end Medicare” is open to debate. But while McKenna has praised Ryan’s knowledge of the federal budget, he has not endorsed the proposal.
Jackson Holtz, a spokesman for Our Washington, declined to discuss McKenna’s positions on the issues discussed in the ad.
In an email, he said voters deserve to know about the positions of McKenna’s party.
“McKenna has made it clear that he is a Republican and he stands with the Republican Party,” Holtz said. “What the ad does is highlight the national Republican Party’s position on those issues.”
A McKenna spokesman called the ad “nonsensical.”
“They don’t even attempt to attack Rob,” Charles McCray said. “They attempt to scare and divide people by saying Rob is a Republican, and going through a list of positions that say all Republicans must have.”
Hitting a candidate for his party’s political positions is fair game. But it is different when the candidate has explicitly come out against those policies.
The ad tries to lead viewers into thinking McKenna supports positions that he does not — particularly when the narrator at the end says, “No way Rob McKenna. You are not who you say you are.”
For that, we rate it mostly false.
Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal.