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The DSCC refuses to comment on why it is not supporting Mrs. Dill or whether its strategy involves tearing down Mr. Summers in hopes that it will help Mr. King win.

Instead, the DSCC has constrained itself to attacking Mr. Summers.

Charlie Summers is an anti-choice tea partier, who supports eliminating the Department of Education, privatizing Social Security, protecting tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and ending Medicare as we know it,” DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil said in a statement circulated recently by the DSCC’s communications team. “Charlie Summers should not be in the United States Senate, and it is time every Mainer knows it.”

GOP strategy

For Republicans, the math is clear: They need to lower Mr. King’s level of support, and the easiest way to do that is to push some of his voters toward Mrs. Dill.

Democrats, meanwhile, want to push Mr. Summers‘ voters toward the center, which essentially means to Mr. King.

Last week’s ad could well do that.

Mr. Summers, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, called the commercial insulting.

“I saw it briefly. My father showed it to me,” he told The Times after a recent stump speech by the bar at Gritty McDuff’s, a landmark brewpub in Portland’s historic Old Port waterfront district. “It’s a total fabrication and an absolute distortion.”

He said it won’t be effective because “we’re speaking to the working people of this state, the people who work with their hands, the waitresses, the farmers, the truck drivers.”

“When Mainers look at me, hopefully, they see a little bit of themselves,” he said.

Democratic attacks

The DSCC is hoping the “extremist” label sticks, and it’s not the first time Mr. Summers has been accused of being outside the mainstream.

It’s one reason some analysts say Mrs. Snowe has refused to share any of the $2 million she had left in her campaign war chest — even though Mr. Summers was her state director from 1995 through 2004.

A staffer in Mr. Snowe’s office confirmed reports that the senator was miffed months ago when Mr. Summers failed to endorse her in running for a fourth term against a potential tea party candidate in the race.

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