President Obama and the Democrats are doubling down on their attacks on the so-called shadow GOP, charging that Republicans are trying to "steal" the election with an avalanche of secret money. At a Philadelphia rally on Sunday, Obama also repeated his claim that some of that money may be from foreign sources — an allegation that has been disputed.
Republicans "are being helped along this year by special interest groups that are spending unlimited amounts of money on attack ads … just attacking people without ever disclosing who's behind all these attack ads," Obama said Sunday. "You don't know. It could be the oil industry. It could be the insurance industry. It could even be foreign-owned corporations. You don't know because they don't have to disclose."
Obama was referencing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which the liberal Think Progress charged last week with using dues from foreign members to fund attacks on Democrats. The chamber has denied it uses foreign funds on its politicking, but Democrats quickly seized on the report, with Obama himself citing it at two rallies last week.
On Saturday, the New York Times' Eric Lichtblau fact-checked the statements, saying that there was little evidence to back up the claims about the chamber and that its election spending wasn't "unusual." Democratic-friendly groups like labor unions and the Sierra Club, he noted, also take funds from foreign entities. But federal law requires all the groups to isolate those contributions from spending on U.S. elections — something the chamber strongly insists it does.
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Still, Democrats gave no hints of backing down from the attack, which the party hopes will stir up a lackluster base ahead of Election Day. While Obama repeated the foreign-money line in Philly, the Democratic National Committee launched an ad attacking the Chamber and other GOP groups linked to former Bush strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie for spending millions in undisclosed donations to influence the midterms.
The ad, which specifically attacks Rove, Gillespie and the chamber, shows a woman having her purse stolen by a mugger in a parking garage.
"They're stealing our democracy, spending millions from secret donors to elect Republicans to do their bidding in Congress," a narrator says ominously. "It appears they've even taken secret foreign money to influence our elections."
You can watch the ad here:
In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Rove slammed Obama and the Democrats for their attacks, calling them a "desperate political ploy" to distract from issues like the economy.
[Photos: More moments with Obama]
"Have these people no shame? Does the president of the United States have such little regard for the office that he holds that he goes out there and makes these kind of baseless charges against his political enemies?" Rove said. "This is just beyond the pale. How dare the president do this."
The risk for Democrats is that they may actually be firing up Republicans more than their own party with the attacks. An unnamed official with American Crossroads, one of a network of GOP groups that has spent millions on ads this cycle, tells CNN they raised $30,000 from online donors on Sunday — cash that wasn't solicited. The money, the official said, came from "all 100 percent American donors."