OLYMPIA, Wash. - Democratic Sen. Patty Murray is attacking Republican challenger Dino Rossi over his opposition to the Wall Street reform bill that passed Congress.
In a new TV ad running this week, Murray criticizes Rossi for favoring repeal of the new financial regulations. That bill, signed into law by President Barack Obama last month, imposes the stiffest restrictions on banks and Wall Street since the Great Depression.
Murray's ad calls Rossi "the best friend Wall Street and big banks can buy," criticizing him for raising money from financial and corporate interests.
In response, Rossi criticized the Murray campaign's negative tone and quotes Wall Street executives saying they weren't totally opposed to the reforms.
In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Rossi pointed to his own television ad that went up statewide on cable television, noting that his wasn't an attack ad.
"It's kind of sad and sorry that she decided she needed to attack me before we even got through the primary," he said. "She's clearly worried."
Rossi also noted that Murray voted in favor of the bailouts that are mentioned in her ad, as images of George W. Bush are flashed on the screen.
"She's attacking the legislation she actually voted for," he said.
Julie Edwards, Murray's campaign spokeswoman, said that Murray voted for the Wall street bailout only after "talking with business owners in Washington state who said the results of not acting would be catastrophic to this country in terms of jobs lost."
"She made a decision that she would not allow taxpayers to ever be on the hook again to bail out Wall Street," Edwards said. "That's why she supported Wall Street reform and that's why she fought for it."
The new law gives the government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy, creates a new agency to guard consumers in their financial transactions and monitors financial markets that escaped the oversight of regulators.
Rossi's ad, which went up Tuesday, focuses on Rossi's family story line, a theme he's used often both in this campaign and his prior unsuccessful bids for governor. As pictures of Rossi's childhood flash on the screen, he notes that he is the youngest of seven kids raised on a teacher's salary, and that he worked his way through college as a janitor at Seattle's iconic Space Needle.
"That's why I can't stand what's going on in the U.S. Senate," he says in the ad. "They're wasting money on programs that aren't creating jobs or helping the economy."
Murray's campaign says her ad is running statewide on broadcast and cable, but refused to say how long it would run or how much it cost. Rossi's campaign says his ad is running statewide on cable, but also wouldn't provide further details.
Murray is seeking a fourth term in the Senate, and Rossi is her top challenger heading into the state's Aug. 17 top two primary. While a handful of other candidates are also in the race, only the two highest vote-getters move on to the November election, regardless of party affiliation.