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Here come the attack dogs

Talking Points Memo today finds an article in the Washington Post outlining the GOP strategy for the midterm elections:

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.

Minnesota Republican Watch also quotes this WaPo article, and finds that the NRCC is dumping money into the Sixth District race, quoting Polinaut:

The groups will run a total of 946 ads on WCCO-TV between October third through election day. The groups won't say which races they're targeting but it's safe to say the DSCC will run ads on behalf of Amy Klobuchar, the DCCC will probably run ads on behalf of Patty Wetterling and the NRCC will run ads on behalf of Michele Bachmann. Bachmann and Wetterling are running for Congress in Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District. …

The National Republican Congressional Committee will run 396 ads on WCCO between October third and election day at a cost of $579,100.

Put those two facts together, and it sure looks like some nasty attack ads are coming in the two months before the election.

This is the Minnesota Democrats Exposed style of politics: dig up any dirt you can on your opponent, no matter how irrelevant or scurrilous the allegations. Fling mud rather than debate policies. It's despicable.

Unfortunately for the Repubs who would attempt this strategy in the Sixth, there doesn't seem to be too much dirt on Patty Wetterling. I can't think of anything damaging the Republicans were able to find on Wetterling in the '04 campaign. Even MDE, currently (probably) the person most responsible for lowering the level of political discourse in Minnesota, hasn't been able to dig up anything on Wetterling. His website used to have a link to an "upcoming section" called "Patty Wetterling Exposed"; after remaining empty for the entire summer, it appears to have been removed from the site completely. Of course, having no basis for attack ads never stopped a Republican from running them: the craven Mark Kennedy, lacking ammo for personal attacks, still ran ads implying that, because Wetterling accepted money from MoveOn, she supports Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

Patty Wetterling, the person, is a saint in Minnesota. That may or may not translate into victory for Patty Wetterling, the Democrat, in the most Republican district in the state. But any attempt to smear Patty Wetterling will backfire.