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GOP Sees MoveOn as Wedge

“It is going to take some time, but MoveOn is making it so easy with their radical, anti-American stances that, over time, people are going to view them as the fringe — to the left of Howard Dean,” said Keelen.

Not so, say Durbin and other Democrats.

“The more they attack them, the more popular they are,” Durbin said of MoveOn.

The GOP’s ability to delegitimize MoveOn, to some degree, hinges on how the war in Iraq plays out. In recent weeks, support for the war has been sinking.

Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), who’s running for the Senate in a conservative state by positioning himself as a centrist, said he has no problem if MoveOn wants to help him raise cash.

“MoveOn.org hasn’t placed one road-side bomb in Iraq,” Ford said. “Nor did MoveOn.org fail to plan an exit strategy.”

While the group hasn’t yet helped him, Ford said Rove’s attacks on MoveOn smacked of “childish instinct.”

Pariser added that it will be difficult for Republicans to attack a candidate for taking contributions from a group “funded exclusively or largely by grass-roots people in $25 amounts.”

He points out that recent issues MoveOn has highlighted — opposition to Social Security reform and support of an overhaul of the campaign finance system — are in tune with a large portion of the citizenry.

“There is no position that the organization as a whole has taken that is outside of the mainstream,” said Pariser. “None of those things are something that a candidate needs to fear.”

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