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Governor candidates unleash nasty ads
Barnes, Deal stay on the attack as race winds down to final weeks
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With less than two weeks before Election Day, the mud has really started to fly.

Gubernatorial candidates Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal have unleashed nasty attack ads that push the boundaries of reality.

The Barnes campaign used a video of Nathan Deal walking away from reporters after a debate last week in Atlanta as part of a new commercial. The audio appears to be altered to add more voices shouting questions than there were in the original clip.

The Barnes campaign meanwhile has asked the Deal camp to remove a newly released TV spot that they claim misquotes a spokeswoman as saying Barnes represented a child molester as an attorney.

"It's standard operating procedure. The old adage is go negative early, stay negative and go negative late," said Ross Alexander, a political science professor at North Georgia College & State University. "Both campaigns are pretty well-funded and can churn out negative campaign ads that are new through the end of the election."

Deal and Barnes have remained within 10 percentage points of each other in polls throughout the election season, causing an especially acidic tone in the final days of the race.

"The race is much closer than anybody thought it would be," Alexander said, referring to media reports about Deal's personal finances and ethics that have dogged him since winning the Republican nomination.

Alexander said the truth bending aspects of the ads are to be expected at this point.

"I think the campaign managers and people who write these ads, the purpose is to sway voters but also to confuse them," Alexander said. "The average voter doesn't have the time to spend hours or even minutes tracking down accurate information, so they try to sway their opinion with a 30-second campaign ad that is fantastical."

Both campaigns deny inaccuracy.

"It is absolutely absurd to draw a parallel," said Deal spokesman Brian Robinson. "We quote them accurately, and they fabricate a scene."

"The ad succinctly reflects a number of the questions swirling around Representative Deal," said Barnes spokesman Emil Runge. "Congressman Deal handled this the same way he has continued to handle adversity — he ran."

And it appears no one is safe.

Karen Handel, Deal's opponent in the Republican primary runoff, was thrown back into the political fray in a direct mail advertisement paid for by the Democratic Party of Georgia. The mailer aims to appeal to female supporters of Handel by asking them to remember the "demeaning and disrespectful" ads Deal ran against her.

Runge said the mailer highlights the doubts about Deal among Republicans.

"Republicans are growing increasingly remorseful that they elected a nominee who is weighed down by ethical problems," Runge said. "The mailer reflects the sentiment of the members in our Republicans for Roy group."

Robinson said there was no reason for the Democratic Party to involve Handel without her permission.

"That's the arrogance of Roy Barnes," Robinson said.

"When you're behind for the entire campaign and you're getting toward the final day, desperation sets in."

Handel responded on her Facebook page Wednesday, saying "I do not appreciate being used this way, least of all by Roy Barnes. To imply that I'm in any way supporting him is simply false."

Though it may be hard to believe the attacks could continue to escalate, there are still almost two weeks until Election Day.

"Nothing is shocking," Alexander said.


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