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Since the GOP can't win on its record…

It’s time to get down in the gutter…oops…define Democrats. (WaPo):

Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest over the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said.

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which this year dispatched a half-dozen operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.

The hope is that a vigorous effort to “define” opponents, in the parlance of GOP operatives, can help Republicans shift the midterm debate away from Iraq and limit losses this fall.

The Republicans are going negative, after spending a ton on opposition research. That’s no surprise at all; that’s the usual playbook.

What I want to know is what are Dems going to do about it? Have they prepared candidates who have not faced a well-funded onslaught like this on how to respond? The signs of head in the sand are still there, sadly.

“When all [Republicans] do is launch potshots, they look like they’re trying to cover up the fact that they have no solutions” said Phil Singer, communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Sigh — it’s the “wait and let the GOP self-destruct” fantasy again. The Dems have relied on talking about the abysmal record of Republicans and its worn kneepads before the President in tepid, dry terms. Even with the country, including Southern women, now fed up with the terror manipulation machine, and the endless, unsuccessful Iraq conflict, need to see Dems have the cojones to fight back — and to offer a palatable alternative.

This nice guy BS happens time and again, and even with big leads in many races, the fear is that Dems will manage to screw it up in the home stretch by ignoring the influence of negative ads and money for oppo research. I keep thinking to myself each time, “gee, the record of these clowns in office is so bad that they are going to be tossed out in a landslide.” According to the article, it looks like some effort is being made to be proactive on this front.

In recent elections, Democratic officials have complained that Republicans are much better at opposition research. But Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who chair the Democrats’ House and Senate campaign committees, have invested more heavily in research. Notably, the researchers dig not only into Republicans, but also their own candidates. This allows Democrats to anticipate what is coming and be ready to respond quickly.

One Democratic research success this year came when Emanuel’s staff combed though the archives of several universities to find a copy of an article Colorado Republican candidate Rick O’Donnell wrote for an obscure publication in the mid-1990s. A researcher eventually found the article at George Washington University. In it, O’Donnell argued that Social Security should be abolished — a revelation that was highlighted in three sharply worded DSCC mailings in the district.

No one likes going negative (ok, maybe the GOP does), but should the thugs in charge know how to do this in their sleep. Will the Dems actually find an effective way to counter what they already know is coming — and act on it?

I need not remind you that little has been done to address The Diebold Factor. After all of the fiascos with electronic voting machines in the last cycle — and the flawed technology that makes it possible to affect an outcome in close races — yet another election will transpire with these machines “counting” votes firmly in place.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding