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Republicans launch preemptive attack ad on actress Ashley Judd

Actress Ashley Judd reads off the Tennessee vote totals during the roll call vote for the Democratic presidential nomination during the seco
Actress Ashley Judd reads off the Tennessee vote totals during the roll call vote for the Democratic presidential nomination during the seco

By Tim Ghianni

NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - Republicans launched a political ad in Kentucky this week attacking actress Ashley Judd as a "Hollywood liberal" even though she has not yet decided to run for the Senate.

The ad, backed by Republican strategist Karl Rove, prompted Judd to respond that she was grateful for the attention as she mulls a run against Republican U.S. Senate leader Mitch McConnell in the 2014 Kentucky race.

"Ashley thanks Senator McConnell, Karl Rove and their negative allies for all the attention as she considers her future political plans, although a decision hasn't been made yet," according to a statement from a Judd spokesman.

Rove launched a Kentucky-targeted You Tube video advertisement this week that suggests the actress does not fit the conservative culture of the state. Rove said on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" Thursday night that "this is just the opening ad" and there will be more to come.

Rove's American Crossroads group declined a Reuters request for comment.

In the ad, a narrator calls Judd a "Hollywood liberal" and clips show her speaking out for President Barack Obama's health reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The commercial also notes that Judd is not a Kentucky resident. She lives in Leiper's Fork, a rural area favored by country music stars about 15 miles southwest of Nashville, Tennessee. Her neighbors include her mother and sister, country music luminaries Naomi and Wynonna Judd.

The mocking tone of the commercial concludes with the line: "Isn't that what we need: Ashley Judd, an Obama-following, radical Hollywood liberal who is right at home here in Tennessee. I mean Kentucky."

The Judd family has roots in Kentucky, and California-born Ashley spent part of her childhood there before moving with her mother and sister to the Nashville area, where she attended high school. But she attended the University of Kentucky.

She is a constant presence on the sidelines of Kentucky Wildcats basketball games, both at Lexington's Rupp Arena and sometimes on the road. She is also seen at University of Kentucky football games and posed wearing a hockey jersey for a fund-raising poster for Kentucky's hockey team.

She and her three-time Indy 500 race-car champion husband Dario Franchitti recently announced they were ending their marriage of 11 years.

Her Hollywood career has included films such as "Kiss the Girls" and "Double Jeopardy" as well as TV roles on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and last year's ABC cliffhanger "Missing."

A possible Senate run by Judd is being encouraged by some on social media, including four Facebook pages.

McConnell also could face a challenge from the right, with some conservatives in Kentucky saying they are recruiting a candidate to run against him in the primary.

They say McConnell, who negotiated the deal with President Barack Obama to allow tax increases that avoided the so-called "fiscal cliff, has been too willing to compromise with Obama.

(Reporting By Tim Ghianni; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Greg McCune and Todd Eastham)

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