Arkansas Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate Uses Trump's Rhetoric Against Republican Incumbent

May 2, 2016

A screenshot of an advertisement from Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Conner Eldridge linking Republican incumbent John Boozman to presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Conner Eldridge is hoping GOP anxiety that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will hurt Republicans down the ballot will materialize in his race against incumbent John Boozman. 

The Eldridge campaign released a web advertisement titled “Harassment” on Monday that strings together about a dozen statements made by Mr. Trump demeaning women. 

“She ate like a pig…I’d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers,” the ad opens with a few clips of Trump talking about women’s physical appearances. Trump’s comments are interspersed with a screen typing out a definition of harassment, “to subject someone to hostility.”

In an interview with KUAR Eldridge said Boozman's silence on Trump's pattern of debasing thoughts and comments about women is "not good enough." Sen. Boozman has said he will support whoever the Republican Party nominee is, including Mr. Trump.

“He’s an enabler," said Eldridge. "You should lead when you hear comments like this and that’s why I’ve put this ad out, to call these comments out for what they are: offensive, harassing, and things an incumbent U.S. Senator regardless of party ought to condemn."

The ad also includes snippets of Trump through the last few decades talking in sexually explicit ways about his employees and other women, including an interview with Howard Stern where the Republican frontrunner discusses erections.

STERN: You don’t think you could get it up for her?” asked Stern.

TRUMP: I think I’d have a very hard time

Asked if he should be held responsible for statements that come from Democratic presidential candidates, such as Hillary Clinton's participation in a skit with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio where the term "colored people time" was referenced, Eldridge re-iterated the Boozman-Trump issue and said he won't give any candidate a pass.

"I condemn any comments that are going to target people in a harassing way. I don’t care whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat that makes them. I think a leader calls them out and that’s why I’m doing," said Eldridge without specifically mentioning former Secretary Clinton's name.

The ad characterizes Eldridge as someone who has tackled harassment before as a former U.S. Attorney. The Fayetteville native, with roots in Augusta and Lonoke, was appointed to the position by President Obama in 2010 and stepped down in 2015 to run for U.S. Senate.

The state’s senior U.S. Senator John Boozman endorsed former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee in the presidential primary before he exited the race following a 9th place finish in Iowa’s Republican caucus. Sen. Boozman did not offer his support to any candidate in advance of Arkansas’s March 1 primary and has not backed anyone since then.

Senator Boozman recently told Jonesboro’s NPR-affiliate KASU he would back Trump if he’s the Republican nominee. On Arkansas’s primary night he said a Republican, whoever it is, would be better than the Democratic alternative.

“The consequences are huge. We’re going to be in a situation where the next president gets to pick at least one Supreme Court judge, with the Supreme Court vacancy of Scalia,” said Boozman in a speech to the GOP watch party in Little Rock.

Donald Trump carried Arkansas with 32.8 percent of the vote, at 30.5 percent Ted Cruz was a close second, and the state GOP-elites favorite Marco Rubio placed third with nearly 25 percent.

While Eldridge vehemently condemns Trump's rhetoric on women and Muslims (which Sen. Boozman previously condemned in an interview with KUAR) he still would like to turn Trump supporters to his side.

"I hope to earn the votes of all Arkansans," Eldridge said. "I don’ think Arkansans endorse these comments, they are offense. Arkansans see that and they want a leader who will stand up and take that on."

In a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted last month Trump had a 24 percent favorability rating with women voters. He scored a little higher with men at 37 percent.

The Washington Post took notice of the ad as has NPR's Jessica Taylor.

KUAR has reached out to Sen. Boozman for comment.