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'Bitter' Fight Goes Downballot

The controversy surrounding Sen. Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) "bitter" comments seems to have been explored from nearly every angle in the presidential campaign.

But now GOP strategists are hoping to milk a bit more mileage out of the story by tying Obama's words to Democratic House and Senate candidates.

The National Republican Congressional Committee issued a memo today asking whether downballot Democrats will "'cling' to Obama's elitism." The missive links Obama to another alleged elitist, 2004 nominee John Kerry (D-Mass.), and reminds that the House GOP picked up three seats when Kerry was at the top of the ballot.

"There's a myth being perpetuated by Obama supporters, and even some in the media, that an Obama candidacy is beneficial to down ballot congressional candidates," the NRCC says, adding -- without any real evidence -- that "uncommitted superdelegates ... are wary Obama will lead to a Kerry-like repeat from four years ago."

The National Republican Senatorial Committee, meanwhile, has been busy today releasing a series of Web videos asking whether individual Democratic senators -- each of whom is an uncommitted superdelegate -- will cast their votes for "a man who calls small-town America 'bitter.'"

Now, it's worth remembering that these are just Web videos rather than ads with actual money behind them. At most, Republicans are hoping that at least a few local newspapers and television stations will take the bait and ask their local Democratic lawmaker or candidate what they think of Obama's comments. While the Democratic presidential primary fight is peaking at this very moment, most House and Senate races won't really start to heat up for several months, at which point the "bitter" story will likely have been overtaken by a dozen other controversies and subplots.

And if the GOP really is able to replicate its 2004 performance by picking up three House seats this fall -- an outcome that looks highly unlikely at this point -- Capitol Briefing suspects it will be attributable to a lot more than one Obama quote.

By Ben Pershing  |  April 15, 2008; 5:30 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign  
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