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Attack Ad Uses Bennet Endorsement Against Him

The latest National Republican Senatorial Committee ad against Michael Bennet in Colorado really drives home the GOP argument that President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats aren't fighting for the average American.

"The challenges are too important, we need a senator who will fight for us," says the ad's announcer.

The announcer quotes the Denver Post saying "Bennet's pushing Obama's overreaching agenda...helping to stick future generations with trillions in debt."

And the ad quotes a Denver Post article summing up Bennet's two-years senate career as "not enough spine."

"We need a senator for us, not them," says the announcer at the end of the ad, as Mr. Obama, Bennet and Pelosi are shown.

For most viewers, the ad would appear to be quoting an editorial against Bennet. But it turns out that the article being quoted to slam Bennet is actually the Denver Post's ENDORSEMENT of the incumbent senator.

Here are some of the excerpts from the October 15, 2010 Denver Post editorial, Michael Bennet for U.S. Senator:

"Bennet has the potential to lead a bipartisan coalition of centrist U.S. senators who can finally begin tackling the nation's burdensome debt, the unsustainable entitlement system, and the confusing, unfair tax code while also helping to guide us out of two wars and a deep recession. These are monumental tasks, to be sure. They will require sacrifice from all Americans, but also intelligence and deftness from our leaders. Bennet can do that. He must. But first, he must be Colorado's senator -- not President Obama's senator or Harry Reid's senator. We've long admired him for his smarts, his independence and his coalition-building when he was Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's chief of staff and the Denver Public Schools superintendent. But that Michael Bennet has been mostly AWOL since he was appointed senator in January 2009...."

"We endorsed the president and many of those Democrats because we thought the country needed a new direction. But with that newfound control of Washington, Obama and the Democrats overreached. They moved the country to the left, helping to stick future generations with trillions in debt by reckless spending on a stimulus package and other programs, legislating health-care reform that failed to slow the growth in costs, and lavishing billions on corporate bailouts and takeovers. Sen. Bennet, unfortunately, has helped push that agenda along. If he had bucked his party and his president on just one major issue, and in turn shown some Colorado independence, it would have been much easier to endorse him. Instead, his 20-month career has been frustrating to watch, leaving voters, and us, with a difficult choice."

"The current health care bill is law because of Bennet's one vote. That vote, and his speech, epitomize his short Senate career: So much potential, yet not enough spine," the editorial continues.

But it still comes down on his side: "While his track record in the Senate so far isn't one of a centrist, his stellar accomplishments and maverick views in his earlier career convince us that he's more likely to lead Colorado from the center than Ken Buck.... Buck, however, likely would be an automatic Republican vote in the Senate, and given the unprecedented challenges that face this country, we don't think it's fair, or right, to simply govern for the next six years by saying no."

In the end, the paper endorses Bennet over his Republican challenger Buck almost as the lesser of two evils. While the editorial definitely criticized Bennet, it argued that Colorado would be better off with him than with his opponent. That context, of course, is lost in the Republican ad.

It's not new to take quotes from newspapers out of context in ads, or to pass off quotes from paid opinion columnists as news articles. But this one certainly is unique.

Robert Hendin
Robert Hendin is a CBS News senior political producer. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here.
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