Sen. Mark Pryor is turning to his faith to appeal to voters in his home state. The vulnerable Arkansas Democrat released a new ad on Wednesday publicly proclaiming his Christian faith and calling the Bible his “north star.”
While the ad itself was quick to gain attention, so has a Republican war of words sparked by reaction from the National Republican Senatorial Campaign, which quickly came out lambasting Pryor’s use of the Bible and accusing him of hypocrisy.
“I’m not ashamed to say that I believe in God, and I believe in his word,” Pryor says in the 30-second spot. “The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers. Only God does. And neither political party is always right.”
Holding up a copy of the Bible, he calls it his “compass” and “north star,” saying the book helps guide him “to do what’s best for Arkansas.”
After its release, National Republican Senatorial Campaign communications director Brad Dayspring posted a blog post with a harsh critique of Pryor’s pro-Bible message.
“So is the Bible Mark Pryor’s compass, providing the ‘comfort and guidance to do what’s best for Arkansas?’ Or is it really not a good rule book for political issues and decisions made in the Senate?” he wrote. “Guess it depends on which Mark Pryor that you ask.”
Dayspring told The Hill he was referencing a quote he said Pryor uttered last year, that the Bible is really not a “rulebook for political issues.”
Dayspring said the quote came from an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article published on April 29, 2012, though he told TheBlaze he didn’t have a link for it.
Rather than embrace the National Republican Senatorial Campaign’s criticism, the campaign for Rep. Tom Cotton, a Republican running against Pryor, called it “bizarre and offensive.”
“That is an incredibly bizarre and offensive email from the NRSC’s press secretary,” Cotton campaign manager David Ray told The Hill. ”We should all agree that America is better off when all our public officials in both parties have the humility to seek guidance from God.”
After the Cotton camp broke with the National Republican Senatorial Campaign on the issue, Pryor’s team used the incident to hit back at Cotton and Republicans.
“It’s frankly despicable that Congressman Cotton’s Washington allies are manipulating quotes to question the sincerity of Mark’s religious beliefs,” Pryor campaign manager Jeff Weaver said. “Tom Cotton needs to step up and denounce these shameful attacks on Mark Pryor’s faith.”
An October University of Arkansas poll had Cotton and Pryor in a statistical dead heat, with Cotton leading Pryor 37 percent to 36 percent among likely voters.