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Furniture Wars: The Merk Strikes Back 

Jeff Merkley, stung by Gordon Smith ads attacking him over the purchase of new furniture for state legislative offices, has hit back with a tough

Jeff Merkley, stung by Gordon Smith ads attacking him over the purchase of new furniture for state legislative offices, has hit back with a tough ad of his own linking the Republican senator to our $9 trillion national debt.

Opening with quotes from newspaper editorials calling the Smith attack ads "ridiculous" and "desperate," the spot continues: "It's Smith who can't be trusted with our wallets. $48 billion for Iraq's reconstruction. $18 billion in tax breaks for big oil. A $9 trillion national debt. That's Gordon Smith's record."

According to The Associated Press, Smith spokeswoman Lindsay Gilbride said many of the federal spending bills cited in Merkley's ad had bipartisan support. Merkley "is the one who can't be trusted with Oregonians' hard-earned tax dollars," she said.

"Portland pollster Tim Hibbitts said while the ads by the national Democrats are a boost to Merkley's campaign, they also indicate that the Democrats are worried that Smith's constant hammering on the furniture issue is hurting Merkley," The AP reported.

"This is the first Merkley ad that hits the mark," writes "Mike" on the BlueOregon blog. "It rightly mocks furniture-gate, and quickly moves on to substantive policy issues where Smith has been dead wrong."

But Steve Bucknum, writing on the same site, has a less favorable view:

"Well, darn it all, that ad doesn't attack the harm done with conservative voters, it just muddies with water with more negativity.

"Why can't an ad just go to point and tell the truth. The under-budget $34 million state capitol project was fiscally conservative, going for the long haul with good quality furniture - made in the Prison Industries program. The 'payment' then was the legislature taking money out of one pocket, and putting it into another pocket in our state, e.g. the prison budget."

The Wandering Eye agrees the Merkley attack ad is definitely "negative," but we think it raises legitimate questions about the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush administration and Smith's complicity in it. What's your take?

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