From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
UPDATE: I sent a note to Begich spokeswoman Julie Hasquet asking if Begich would be calling on the DSCC to take down their new Stevens ads, based on the interview at the end of this blog post in which Begich says he won't condone attack ads.
Here's Hasquet's e-mail reply:
As you know, it's illegal for a campaign to coordinate with independent expenditures of any kind.
It looks from our viewing that this is an ad based on Stevens' record. It's not a personal attack. It's about what he has done as a U.S. Senator.
Since it is not a personal attack, nor is there anything inaccurate in the ad, we would not call for it to be taken down.
These types of independent ads are a part of the political process. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Alaska Republican Party have been attacking Mark Begich since February, two months before he was even a declared candidate. They continue to push their attacks out to the media, through push polls and to anyone who will listen. We recognize it's part of the process.
The Begich Campaign will continue to focus on the issues.
The fight's on in the U.S. Senate race, with accusations, challenges and attack ads hitting today. (And it feels like old times, as everyone looks to claim the moral high ground.)
The Alaska Republican Party this morning called on Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich to give back $10,000 in campaign donations he received from the political action committee of Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat who's in hot water over failing to report income on a rental property.
"Begich continues to show his true colors by associating with East Coast Democrats who violate the very tax code the people elect them to write ... In this election cycle he has faced seven APOC violations and surely more examples of Begich's hypocrisy will come to light," the Republicans wrote.
A few hours later, Begich's campaign shot back, saying it would give the money to charity and accusing the Republicans of a double standard, adding that the McCain/Palin camp gave away $5,000 in donations from Begich's opponent - Sen. Ted Stevens.
"How ironic that the Republican Party of Alaska would try to smear the reputation of Mark Begich as Republican Sen. Stevens and Republican Rep. Young are in the national spotlight for corruption," Begich spokeswoman Julie Hasquet said in the announcement.
Meantime, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee says it's started airing TV and radio ads targeting Stevens and his son Ben Stevens.
Here's the TV spot:
Here's the radio clip:
A couple days after the primary election, I asked Begich whether Stevens' indictment would play role in his campaign, and what he'd do if the National party went after Stevens. Here's what he said:
The idea that you're running against an indicted opponent (Stevens faces seven counts of failing to report gifts and home repairs from the now defunct Veco Corp.) -- how much is that going to play into your campaign message?
Begich: My message is what I've been campaigning for the last three or four months. Talking about the issues. Talking about how I don't think Washington is working any longer for Alaska families. How important it is to have a new approach to our energy policy in this country and making sure that we deal with the issues of renewable resources as well as non-renewable resources ... I'm going to campaign to give voters in November something to vote for.
If the National Democrats target Stevens, with attack ads, how will you respond to that?
Begich: It's a hypothetical ... If they talk about issues, that's one thing. If they're personal attacks, I'll ask them to take them down. I don't have any control over them.