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RNC Hits Senate Minority Leader at Home

The Republican National Committee is upping the ante in its offensive against Senate Minority Leader Harry Reidlaunching a television ad this weekend attacking the Nevada Democrat for his alleged hypocrisy on the war in Iraq.

The 60-second ad, which will run Sunday in Nevada as well as on national cable outlets, is a condensed version of a Web video the RNC debuted earlier this week. It highlights past comments made by a number of Democratic leaders -- including Reid -- that painted former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as a menace and expressed support for President Bush's military solution.

The clip of Reid is taken from a September 2002 cable television appearance in which he said: "Saddam Hussein... has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think that the president's approaching this in the right fashion."

The total ad buy in Nevada is just $5,000, according to Reid's office, and the commercials will run on the four local network affiliates (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox News Channel) during the Sunday talk shows. 

The RNC ad is the latest in a series of moves designed to demonize Reid in his home state -- the same blueprint used by Republicans last year in South Dakota against former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Earlier this year the RNC released a lengthy research document detailing Reid statements that the GOP says are out of step with his Nevada constituents. None of these small hits in and of themselves are likely to make an impression with voters but Republicans hope the totality will eventually erode his home state standing.

Reid loyalists insist the vilification effort is not working, pointing to a recent Democratic poll that showed Reid's favorability ratings in the state are as high as they have been since he became party leader following the 2004 election.

Tessa Hafen, a spokeswoman for Reid, said the GOP ad was a smokescreen to distract from offering real solutions in Iraq. "Instead of giving our troops a plan for success or answering the serious questions of the American people, they've decided to start up the Rove/Cheney attack machine in an effort to restore their diminishing credibility and raise their sinking poll numbers," said Hafen.

His office also points out that Reid has been and will continue to travel to bright red states to spread the Democratic message.  Reid will be in Utah over the Christmas holiday and then in Idaho on Jan. 11.

Reid likely isn't going anywhere soon; he's not up for reelection until 2010 and was essentially unchallenged in his re-election race last year.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 18, 2005; 2:24 PM ET
Categories:  Senate  
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