The spots by the reelection arm of the Senate GOP, which were shared first with Fox News, will run nationally and also in the states of six Democratic senators that the NRSC considers potentially “vulnerable” as they run for reelection next year. Senate Republicans need to flip just one Democrat-held seat to win back the majority in the chamber in the 2022 midterms.
Congressional Republicans in recent weeks have highlighted the tug of war over the reopening of schools, which has put President Biden’s administration and congressional Democrats in a difficult spot between the competing interests of some teachers unions in major cities, which oppose returning to classrooms without more protections, and parents who want to see their children back in schools.
Republicans are increasingly blaming Biden, congressional Democrats, and their school union allies for continued school closures.
The 15-second national digital ad includes clips from national newscasts spotlighting the Biden administration’s multiple positions on the issue. It also includes a video snippet of Biden from the 2020 presidential campaign saying “let the CDC speak to this,” quickly followed by Biden’s newly installed Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Rochelle Walensky saying in a recent CNN interview that “schools can safely reopen.”
That soundbite is followed by a clip from GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, in a Fox News interview, pointing out what he called “the hypocrisy of the left” on the issue and noting that “the CDC says open the schools.”
For months, as a presidential candidate, president-elect, and as president, Biden has been urging schools to reopen, and he promised that the CDC would release guidelines to help schools open safely.
But those much-anticipated guidelines, which were released on Friday, were more stringent than some expected, with full in-person classes being recommended only when community transmission levels of the coronavirus are quite low, which would cover few school districts.
“So much for ‘following the science.’ Classrooms are among the safest places in the country for children and teachers and the consequences of keeping children away from in-person learning are incalculable,” Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the NRSC chair, said in a statement.
Scott charged that “in the face of overwhelming evidence, Senate Democrats refuse to take a stand against the union bosses and support reopening our schools. They’ve gone completely mute. The question every American should be asking is, ‘why does our Senator fight for teachers unions instead of our kids?’”
The Senate is split 50-50 between the two parties, but the Democrats control the chamber due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. That means Republicans only have to flip one seat in 2022 to regain the majority they lost following the Democratic sweep in last month’s twin Senate runoff elections in Georgia. But the GOP is defending 20 of the 34 seats up for grabs next year, including open Republican-held seats in the battlegrounds of Pennsylvania and North Carolina and the competitive state of Ohio.
But the Republicans see potential pickups in four Democratic-held seats – and those four senators are being targeted by the new NRSC ads. They are Sens. Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Mark Kelly of Arizona, who just won special elections in battleground states to serve two years in the Senate.
Also in the crosshairs are first-term senators in two other swing states – Sens. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and Catherine Cortez Mastro of Nevada. The other Democrats being targeted are Sens. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Michael Bennet of Colorado.
The NRSC describes the ad buy as modest but says it will invest more money where the spots are successful.
The ads come a week after the American Action Network, an outside group that backs Republican causes, went up with ads on school closings in 12 congressional districts with Democrats they consider potentially vulnerable in next year’s midterm elections.