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More on the GOP smear campaign

LA Times: Negative Ads a Positive in GOP Strategy

"When people are looking at national issues that are not breaking our way, what you want to do is focus on your opponent," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a former Republican National Committee chief of staff. "You've got to play the field's conditions. They demand very tough tactics."

Cole spelled out that approach in a recent strategy memo to House Republicans: "Define your opponent immediately and unrelentingly…. Do not let up — keep the tough ads running right up to election day. Don't make the mistake of pulling your ads in favor of a positive rotation the last weekend."

Republican incumbents this year began running attack ads earlier than ever. But the hardest-hitting are yet to come.

"You haven't seen the majority of the negative ads yet," said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, where a staff of 10 has been deployed on opposition research.

Tom Cole has donated to Michele Bachmann's campaign via his COLE PAC.