FACT CHECK: Tillis attempts to align Cunningham with Democrats’ presidential hopefuls

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Less than 24 hours after the North Carolina primaries, the campaign for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis unveiled its first video ad for the general election.

The Republican incumbent will face Cal Cunningham in November and took aim at his Democratic challenger in the ad released by his campaign earlier this week.

CBS 17 took a closer look at some of the claims in the ad as part of our political pledge to test the factual accuracy of public communications offered by candidates, political action committees or partisan groups.

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THE CLAIM: The 65-second ad cuts to a clip of Cunningham saying “I do intend to support the ticket this fall. The ticket will come together and I intend to support it.” After that comes text on the screen that reads “Cal Cunningham supports all of this,” followed by clips of either Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, speakers talking about those candidates’ platforms or other political buzzwords.

THE FACTS: The clip of Cunningham came from an interview with CBS 17’s Michael Hyland on Feb. 18. The full quote: “I do intend to support the ticket this fall. We’ve got many miles to go between now and the national convention, where we’ll select a nominee. I think the platform will come together, the ticket will come together and I intend to support it.”

The ad tries to link Cunningham to issues that might be unpopular with some voters. For example, the phrase “Medicare for All” is mentioned four separate times in the ad. That’s the single-payer, government-run health care program that is a core component of Sanders’ platform.

But CBS 17 directly asked Cunningham in that interview if he supports Medicare for All.

“I support building off the Affordable Care Act, which is an incredibly important platform for success,” Cunningham said. “We need to add a public option to it, which would open up Medicare, Medicaid or even a new non-profit that could help catch people who aren’t currently able to access quality and affordable care.”

He also called on North Carolina legislators to expand Medicaid.

But Cunningham does seem aligned with Biden on the issue of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

The ad includes a clip of Biden saying “first thing I’m going to do is repeal this Trump tax cut.” That’s a claim the former vice president has made several times.

Cunningham said in a Feb. 11 interview with Indyweek.com that he supports replacing the temporary tax cuts from 2017 with “permanent policies that benefit working families and help lift families out of poverty.”

He also argues the act “is fueling the growing income and wealth inequality in our country by overwhelmingly benefiting the largest corporations and the ultra-wealthy while leaving middle-class and poor families further behind.”

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