WATERTOWN — It appears that Crossroads GPS, a group affiliated with former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove, is running a series of ads in an Arkansas Senate race attacking a Democrat for adopting the same position — raising the Social Security retirement age — that Republican congressional candidate Elise M. Stefanik has put forward in New York’s 21st Congressional District.
Crossroads GPS is a nonprofit corporation associated with American Crossroads, the super PAC that spent more than $800,000 in the primary contest between Ms. Stefanik and her Republican opponent Matthew A. Doheny. The group ran a series of attack ads against Mr. Doheny, calling him “a significantly flawed candidate” and a “perennial loser” who was “unfit for Congress.”
Ms. Stefanik won all 12 counties in the district in the primary race and defeated Mr. Doheny by more than 20 percentage points. During his concession speech, Mr. Doheny cited the influx of outside spending in the district as a major factor in his defeat.
“My opponent had a good night; Karl Rove had a good night. That’s just the reality,” Mr. Doheny told supporters gathered in Watertown.
Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit arm of the Crossroads conglomerate, began running an attack ad titled “Troubling” earlier this month in the Arkansas Senate race between Democrat incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and his Republican challenger Rep. Tom Cotton.
The ad criticized Sen. Pryor for his stance on Medicare and Social Security and his proposal to raise the retirement age.
This week, during an appearance in Watertown, Ms. Stefanik said she favored an incremental raising of the retirement age for those of her generation — around 30 years old. She said there would be no changes to Social Security for those “in or near retirement,” which she defined as 50 and older.
Politifact.com rated the Arkansas Crossroads GPS ad “mostly false” because it took Sen. Pryor’s comments out of context, using a heavily edited video clip of Sen. Pryor from 2011, in which he discusses raising the retirement age for younger generations. The clip, which features images of older voters, makes it appear that Sen. Pryor is discussing making immediate changes to Social Security.
Ms. Stefanik, a 2006 Harvard graduate, worked in the George W. Bush White House at the same time Mr. Rove was there. In the general election, she is facing Democrat Aaron G. Woolf, a documentary filmmaker with a home in Elizabethtown, and Green Party candidate Matthew J. Funiciello, a bakery and cafe owner from Glens Falls.
Mr. Woolf has been aggressively attacking Ms. Stefanik on the campaign trail of late, trying to tie Ms. Stefanik to proposals to privatize parts of Social Security that began in the Bush White House. Ms. Stefanik has fired back, saying she does not want to privatize the program but rather modernize it by looking at raising the retirement age, using means-testing for benefit recipients and using a chain-weight consumer price index to adjust for inflation.
She called her opponent’s stance on the issues a “do-nothing approach” that would bankrupt Medicare and Social Security and has called Mr. Woolf’s criticisms, including those about her position on raising the retirement age, political scare tactics.
Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, said that the groups do not coordinate with candidates or party committees and that “candidates have every right to take positions on issues they feel are important to their district.”