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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Robin Carnahan is using her first TV ad to focus on Republican Roy Blunt's support for legislation authorizing up to $700 billion to shore up banks and other troubled financial institutions.
Calling Blunt "the very worst of Washington," the ad states that Blunt in 1999 eliminated some financial system safeguards put in place during the Great Depression and then took a leading role in 2008 to work out the financial bailout legislation. It also says he has accepted more than $1.6 million in campaign donations from the banking and financial industry during his tenure in Congress.
The ad is running in markets across Missouri, Carnahan campaign spokesman Linden Zakula said Thursday. He said the spot is designed to hold Blunt accountable for wasting tax dollars, defending corporate special interests and hurting the middle class.
Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer criticized the ad and said Carnahan was shying away from talking about jobs and economic development issues.
"This phony ad is the worst in political deception and hypocrisy," Chrismer said.
Blunt and Carnahan are running to replace retiring Republican U.S. Sen. Kit Bond. Blunt's campaign already has criticized Carnahan in a TV ad, saying she would be a "rubber stamp" for the policies for President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders.
The financial legislation passed Congress in 2008 as stock markets were plummeting. It allowed the federal government to use $250 billion immediately for financial institutions and an additional $100 billion if the president certified it was necessary. The remaining $350 billion could be spent if certified by the president and not rejected by Congress.
Two years later, the Toxic Asset Relief Program has become an issue in campaigns across the country. Many voters have negative perceptions of it even though much of the initial money has been paid back to the federal government.
Blunt has told The Associated Press that he supported the initial $350 billion for financial institutions and called it a short-term investment in the economy to be paid back with a significant profit. He opposed spending the second portion because of concerns about how the first part had been managed.
The Sedalia Democrat reported in July that Carnahan, Missouri's Secretary of State, said the bailout money may have been needed to stabilize the economy but that Blunt and others failed to attach strict controls on how it was spent. Two weeks later, the newspaper reported that Carnahan said she was not convinced banks were in a crisis and would not have voted for the legislation and does not currently support it.