Pro-Trump group stops its 'beyond stupid' attack on a Republican senator who opposed health care bill

Dean hellerAlex Wong/Getty ImagesSen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

A pro-Trump group pulled ads attacking Sen. Dean Heller on Tuesday, just hours after they hit Nevada airwaves lambasting the Republican for criticising the Senate’s healthcare bill.

In the ad, the White House-backed group American First Policies accused Heller of breaking his “promise” to voters that he would repeal Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. It was a highly unusual assault on a politician from within his own party — one that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called “beyond stupid” in a complaint to White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on Saturday.

Heller is up for re-election in 2018, and will likely face a tough battle in a state carried by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, making the ad even more shocking to Republicans. Retired GOP strategist Evan Siegfried called the internecine attack “one of the dumbest things that can be done by this group, or any group for that matter.”

An American First Policies official said the group decided to pull the seven-figure ad campaign after Heller announced plans to visit the White House with other Republicans on Tuesday, according to Politico. The official interpreted the announcement as an indicator of Heller’s willingness to negotiate on the bill.

The group previously pilloried Heller in a tweet on Friday, proclaiming the Republican was “now with @NancyPelosi. NOT GOOD!”

Heller told reporters last week that he could not support a bill “that takes insurance away from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.”

With at least nine Republicans publicly opposing the bill, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), party leaders said they would delay a vote until after the Independence Day recess. The party can afford to lose just two senators in the vote, assuming all 48 Democrats vote against it.

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