As Maine Politics notes, the Collins campaign is working like mad to paint VoteVets as a tool of the liberal fringe. And I wouldn't be surprised if more than a few of Sen. Collins' dittoheads in the Maine press corps accept that characterization.
But VoteVets is a veteran-founded, veteran-run organization that, according to its website, has 102,000 thousands of veteran members. Its stated mission is "to ensure that today's soldiers have the necessary resources to successfully complete their missions."
Plus, the spot is delivered by a real live Iraq war veteran and Mainer--rather than, say, a well-paid Hollywood star who admits he was just doing it for the money.
In short: An astroturf front group VoteVets is not.
So, will Maine voters really swallow an effort to spin the ad as a stealth con from arugula-eating, Kucinich for President diehards?
Between their smears and cheap shots, don't the Collins folks need to, y'know, actually rebut the substance of the thing?
UPDATE: Forgive me--the Collins camp press release does contain a rebuttal. Of sorts.
After mentioning the drop-in-the-bucket proposal we discussed earlier, the release continues:
In addition, [Sen.] Collins...sent a letter to the President on August 7, asking that the Administration provide further details of the steps it is taking with the government of Iraq to increase that country's investment in its own reconstruction and restabilization, along with plans to ensure that American taxpayers do not continue to foot the bill for these efforts.So there, VoteVets. Take that.
Meanwhile, I can already see the debate:
MODERATOR: What steps did you take in Congress to help change our Iraq war policy?It would be funny--if the consequences weren't so disastrous.
REP. ALLEN: I opposed the war from the beginning and voted repeatedly to bring our troops home.
SEN. COLLINS: Well, on August 7 I sent the President a letter asking for further details. See? I didn't just "stand by" and let things happen.
UPDATE: The write-up at the VoteVets.org implies that all its members are veterans. Several news outlets (like this one) have accepted that figure.
But a reader has pointed to a Washington Post article (no link available) which disputes these numbers. So I've revised the post to acknowledge the ambiguity.
And I've gone ahead and contacted VoteVets for clarification.