Oct. 25, 2006 — -- It's crunch time in election season, and with control of the House and Senate up for grabs, that means a ramping up in nasty, ugly attacks.
And with Republicans on the defensive, some of the nastiest rhetoric right now is coming from the political right.
One TV ad from the Republican National Committee about Democratic Tennessee Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. is causing controversy.
In it, an actress playing a white, blonde bimbo says, "I met Harold at the Playboy party."
The RNC says it's just trying to paint Ford as a man about town -- Ford attended a Super Bowl party hosted by the men's magazine -- but civil rights leaders say the "bimbo" is in the ad to appeal to racist fears of black men and white women.
Even Ford's Republican opponent, Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker, has called for the ad to be pulled.
Also causing some headlines and headaches for the GOP are conservative comments about actor and activist Michael J. Fox.
Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, has cut highly emotional TV spots focused on embryonic stem cell research for two Democratic Senate candidates and a governor.
Rush Limbaugh questioned whether Fox's very real physical tremors were faked.
"In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it's purely an act," Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh apologized after his listeners clued him in that Fox was not acting, but some say the conservative radio host didn't seem sincere.
"Clearly the environment is bad for Republicans. Clearly the war in Iraq is a huge minus. The president is a minus," said Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report.
In an ad by the National Republican Congressional Committee against New York Democratic congressional candidate Michael Arcuri, a phone number to an "adult fantasy hotline" is the focus.
The phone number appeared on Arcuri's New York City hotel-room bill while he was there on official business.
The ad's allegations don't withstand scrutiny.
Hotel and phone billing records show that the hotline call was simply a wrong number -- a number very similar to that of the state Justice Department, which an aide to Arcuri dialed a minute later.
Critics call the ad a cheap shot. Even Arcuri's Republican opponent called for it to be pulled.
Democrats aren't necessarily running clean campaigns, though.
As the races tighten in the next couple of weeks, the left will likely unleash its garbage as well.
When the going gets tough, the politicians get ugly.