Dems want to know if GOP candidates would also reject 10-to-1 debt deal

Democrats are asking GOP Senate candidates Friday whether they would also reject a debt-reduction deal containing 10 times more spending cuts than new taxes, as Republican presidential candidates had done in their debate last night.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) sought to pose the same question that the presidential candidates had faced last night to the crop of Republican Senate hopefuls.

The DSCC is papering states with releases, asking if GOP Senate candidates — Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada, Rep. Denny Rehberg in Montana, former Sen. George Allen in Virginia, state Treasurer Josh Mandel in Ohio, state Rep. Adam Hasner and former Sen. George LeMieux in Florida, and former Rep. Heather Wilson and Lt. Gov. John Sanchez in New Mexico — if they would also reject a "grand bargain" that included $10 in spending cuts for every additional dollar in new taxes.

The GOP presidential field got a question about it last night from anchor Bret Baier: "Say you had a deal, a real spending cuts deal, 10-to-1, spending cuts to tax increases ... Can you raise your hand if you feel so strongly about not raising taxes, you'd walk away on the 10-to-1 deal?"

All the candidates raised their hand, and Democrats pounced, releasing a Web video accusing the candidates of "pledging allegiance to the Tea Party."

Republicans welcomed a fight over taxes and spending.

"Given the Democrats’ disastrous economic record, Republicans can only hope that a debate over taxes and spending will be the focal point of next year’s Senate elections," said Brian Walsh, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). "And we look forward to hearing if Democrat Senators such as Jon Tester, Ben Nelson, Claire McCaskill and others, are embracing the call by their liberal party leaders to raise taxes on families and small businesses."

The party clearly thinks it was a seminal moment that works in the party's interests; President Obama's senior reelection adviser David Axelrod called it a "stunning" moment on Friday.

"That 10-to-1 thing was a stunning thing," he said on MSNBC.

Republicans aren't particularly hurt with primary voters by promising not to raise any new taxes. Indeed, when the GOP presidential candidates all raised their hands, it drew applause from the conservative audience.

But moreover, the DSCC strategy here, of piggybacking on a moment like that in the presidential debate, is emblematic of how they will approach the overall campaign, using moments from the top of the ticket as a wedge for down-ballot Republican candidates.

Of course, Republicans at the NRSC and counterpart GOP committees will do the same thing, associating Democratic candidates and incumbents with Obama's words throughout the campaign.

Updated 12:40 p.m.