New Tillis TV ad launches with veterans criticizing Cunningham amid reports of affair

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – In a new television ad Monday, Republican Sen. Thom Tillis’ campaign featured veterans criticizing Cal Cunningham (D) amid reports of an extramarital affair, as Cunningham tried to keep the final days of the campaign focused on health care. 

The ad highlights the investigation by the U.S. Army Reserves, and whether there were any violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Cunningham is a lieutenant colonel in the reserves.

Cunningham participated in a Zoom call Monday with other Democratic candidates, discussing the fate of the Affordable Care Act. 

He argued the race is ultimately about more than him. 

“It’s your health care. That’s what’s on the ballot,” he said. “We have to think about this election as our one and our only opportunity to course correct for the people of our state.”  

Over the weekend, the editorial boards of the Raleigh News & Observer and Charlotte Observer declined to endorse either candidate after initially planning to endorse Cunningham. 

The board wrote that he would be “more moderate” than Tillis but raised concerns about his unwillingness to answer questions since news of the affair broke.

The board wrote, “But his lack of judgment during a race that could swing the balance of power in Washington, as well as his selfishness in taking this risk, should deeply trouble North Carolinians.”

In a recent poll CBS 17 conducted with Emerson College, 46 percent of voters told us the issue makes “no difference” in their decision to vote for Cunningham. Additionally, 12 percent said they were more likely, while 38 percent said they were less likely.  

Groups seeking to help Tillis, who has trailed consistently in recent polling, have poured millions of dollars into the state to run ads highlighting this issue in the campaign’s final days. The RealClearPolitics average of recent polling has Cunningham leading Tillis by about four points. 

“This entire Senate race is boiling down to the fact that he will not answer any questions about his conduct whatsoever,” said Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley. 

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in North Carolina Sunday and was greeted by Gov. Roy Cooper (D). 

Cooper sounded optimistic about Cunningham’s chances of winning the race despite the scandal and noted the impact it’s had. 

“And, I think we’re going to all get across the line. I think Cal’s going to get across the line, too. I know that’s frustrating,” Cooper told Biden.  

Cunningham did not appear at Biden’s campaign events Sunday. The Biden campaign did not discuss decisions on whom to invite.  

Cunningham wants to keep health care as the top issue in the race, noting the Supreme Court will take up a case involving the Affordable Care Act a week after the election.  

“Rather than passing COVID relief, (Tillis) is rushing through a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” Cunningham said Monday. 

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