PHOENIX—Arizona Sen. John McCain launched new radio and television ads Thursday that blast his primary opponent for supporting congressional earmarks.
The four-term Arizona senator is in a tough race against former U.S. Rep. J.D. Hayworth, a former talk-radio host who is challenging McCain from the right in the Aug. 24 Republican primary.
The ads feature an announcer criticizing Hayworth as "an avid earmarker." In contrast, McCain is described as waging "a determined battle against pork barrel spending." McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said the new ads are running statewide.
The television commercial shows McCain speaking to an audience and shaking hands with voters as a folksy announcer intones that "he fights to save us money." It fades to slow-motion footage of Hayworth as a list of earmarks he's voted for scrolls up the screen.
It closes with a woman saying, "I just don't think we can afford J.D. Hayworth right now."
In the radio ad, a narrator says McCain doesn't think Americans can afford more spending in Washington and describes Hayworth as a defender of earmarks.
Earmarks use federal funds to pay for local projects in lawmakers' home districts. Fiscal conservatives oppose the practice, saying it breeds corruption and wastes federal tax dollars.
Hayworth spokesman Mark Sanders called McCain's ads "a desperate ploy by Sen. McCain because he knows he's in trouble." Hayworth is raising money to air an ad that attacks McCain's support for the immigration reform bill, but he has not yet aired any television commercials.
McCain has for months been airing TV ads touting his record, including a spot ridiculed online in which the senator demands that the government "complete the danged fence" on the U.S.-Mexico border.