On the day that 4th Congressional District candidate Mia Love was speaking to the Republican National Convention, Democrats assailed her at home — casting shadows on her moment in the national spotlight.
That included a Democratic "super PAC" launching a $200,0000 TV ad campaign against her; Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson criticized her for plans that he says would end federal college student aid; and a Democratic-leaning reform group spreading a video also attacking Love’s proposals to cut student aid.
Love’s campaign dismissed the barbs as a diversionary tactic.
"Jim Matheson’s liberal friends have revved up their attack machine to distort and cherry pick Mia Love’s record in an attempt to distract Utah voters from four years of failed Obama-Matheson policies," campaign spokesman Brian Somers said.
Meanwhile, Democrats scheduled another event that perhaps would draw some attention away from the Republican convention: the opening of President Barack Obama’s Utah campaign office in Salt Lake City.
The Democratic House Majority PAC launched a two-week ad campaign blasting Love’s record as mayor and city council member in Saratoga Springs. Andy Stone, communications director for the PAC, said the launch was intentionally timed to coincide with Love’s speech.
The ad said: "On the Saratoga Springs City Council, Love voted to raise property taxes three times, up 116 percent in one year, and allowed spending to nearly double. And as mayor, Love took a 30 percent pay increase. If you like how she raised taxes in Utah, you’ll love Mia Love in Congress.
Alexandria Lapp, executive director of the PAC, said the ad is part of "our paid media offensive to hold Republican candidates accountable and reveal the truth to voters." The ad can be seen online at http://bit.ly/Ou33fo.
Somers defended Love’s local government record.
"On Mia Love’s watch, Saratoga Springs has attracted new businesses, new jobs, balanced its budget every year, and received the highest bond rating available to it. Contrast this with the Obama-Matheson record of anemic economic growth, record sustain unemployment, trillion dollar annual deficits and a national bond rating downgrade."
Somers said the claim about Love’s salary increase as mayor is deceptive. He said the increase was about $200 annually, and she did not vote on it. In contrast, he said while Matheson has voted against congressional pay increases, he still is now accepting about $29,000 a year more than when he was first elected.
Meanwhile, Matheson called a press conference at Salt Lake Community College in Taylorsville to denounce part of a debt-reduction plan that Love had distributed to state GOP convention delegates that proposed to "end student aid and all other programs" to save $33.1 billion a year.
"She’s in Florida getting ready to give a partisan speech," Matheson said. "What she won’t say in that speech is anything about her plan to pull the rug out from under more than 75 percent of Utah’s college students" who now receive federal aid.
Matheson brought along some students who said they could not afford college without federal aid, and said of Love, "She got her college degree with the help of federal student loans. Why does she want to deny Utahns the same opportunity...? This plan is a reckless and dangerous proposal that will hurt Utahns and damage Utah’s economy."
Matheson said he did not schedule his press conference to draw attention from Love on the day of her speech, but had had it planned for awhile.
Meanwhile, the Alliance for a Better UTAH said it began distributing around Utah colleges what it says is the first of a series of videos decrying what it calls the "No-Love Plan" to cut federal aid for students.
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Josh Kanter, the group’s founder, said he hopes Love "enjoys the spotlight in Tampa, because in Utah we’re not all feeling the love."
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