HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Republicans are taking out an attack ad against Sen. Jon Tester in an attempt to make good on President Donald Trump’s pledge that the Montana Democrat will pay for scuttling his Department of Veterans Affairs nominee.
The ad by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which will air statewide for at least a week starting Wednesday, says Tester spread reckless allegations and lies about White House physician Ronny Jackson.
The ad shows a clip of Trump saying that what Tester did to Jackson “is a disgrace” and a Trump tweet that said Tester should resign. “Trump is right. It’s time for Jon Tester to go,” the ad says.
“Sen. Tester didn’t even think twice before spreading unsubstantiated claims about a decorated veteran, just to please Chuck Schumer and his liberal party bosses in Washington,” NRSC spokesman Calvin Moore said Tuesday.
Moore declined to say how much the NRSC spent on the ad.
Tester campaign manager Christie Roberts dismissed the attack.
“This is just politics,” she said. “Jon is relentless in holding government accountable and he will continue to fight for veterans to make sure they have the services they need and have earned.”
Trump said last week that Tester “will have a big price to pay” politically after Tester’s office released allegations against the White House physician that included drunkenness, overprescribing medication and fostering a hostile work environment. Jackson withdrew his nomination and denies the claims.
Since then, the president has criticized Tester in tweets and public appearances. On Tuesday, White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short phoned in to a Montana radio program and said the president was considering traveling to Montana to campaign against Tester.
Tester is running for a third term in November’s elections, one of 10 Democrats seeking re-election in states that Trump won in 2016. Four Republicans are competing in the June 5 primary for the chance to take on Tester.
Tester, who is the top Democrat on the Veterans Affairs Committee, and Republican committee chairman Johnny Isakson of Georgia released a joint statement last week that Jackson’s hearing would be indefinitely postponed. Tester’s office then released a list of allegations against Jackson that included drunkenness, overprescribing medication and creating a hostile work environment.
Tester has said the allegations were made by more than two dozen people who’ve worked with Jackson. Tester said not investigating Jackson would have been a dereliction of duty and that he released the allegations for transparency.