Formerly known as “dirty tricks”

Earlier this week we drew attention to AFSCME’s Newtron bomb — AFSCME’s megabucks Florida advertising campaign attacking Mitt Romney in order to give Newt Gingrich a boost in the Florida primary. Hugh Hewitt now draws attention the the Orlando Sentinel story drawing the larger picture:

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has an unlikely ally this week in his Florida primary battle against Mitt Romney: the Democratic National Committee.

The Democrats are targeting Mitt Romney as if he were already the Republican nominee running against President Barack Obama, with campaign ads, Internet videos, daily news conferences and dozens of news releases attacking the former Massachusetts governor.

Traditional Democratic partners are jumping in, too. Both the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ and Service Employees International Union’s political-action committees are running their own TV commercials in Florida this week — attacking Romney.

Gingrich and the other two Republican candidates, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Texas U.S.Rep. Ron Paul, are being all but ignored by the DNC and its allies.

For “Democratic National Committee,” of course, read “Obama.” Obama and his Democratic allies want to take Romney out of the GOP contest and promote Newt Gingrich as their opponent. Sentinel reporter Scott Powers (surprisingly) observes that the Democrats’ tactics have an evocative precedent:

Rollins College political scientist Donald L. Davison said the Democrats could have a variety of reasons for their attacks, including a decision that “they would rather face Gingrich,” whose multiple marriages and $1.6 million in “consultant” earnings from Freddie Mac in Washington could make him a weaker nominee.

He noted that the most extreme historical precedent for such a strategy was when President Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President worked hard in 1972 to get Democrats to pick Sen. George McGovern, an outspoken liberal whom Nixon beat easily.

Hugh rightly notes that this is a helluva story, even though no one other than Hugh is making anything of it. Hey, I remember. When the shenanigans of Nixon’s crew were exposed, the Democrats called them “dirty tricks.” I seem to recall that they were held out as something of a scandal

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