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Freedom's Watch Opponents Get Organized

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The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is set to launch a website Thursday that will serve as a preemptive attack outlet against the right-wing advocacy group Freedom's Watch.

TheRealFreedomsWatch.org is tasked with exposing information on the well-funded conservative organization, which has connections both to the Bush administration and McCain campaign. The overarching purpose, it seems, will be to protect Democratic congressional candidates, who have increasingly found themselves targets of Freedom Watch's resources.

The effort reflects the recognition among many Democrats that outside groups, not the financially struggling Republican campaign committees, will pose a uniquely significant threat this election cycle. In addition to the launch of The Real Freedom's Watch, a prominent Democratic strategist told the Huffington Post that major progressive fundraisers are coming together around a separate entity to go after conservative 527s and their respect donors.

"When you consider the infamous swift-boat attacks against John Kerry were financed with less than one-tenth the proposed budget for Freedom's Watch, our challenge becomes clear," DCCC Chairman Chris Van Holen says in a post announcing the site. "We can not allow shadowy outside groups steal our Big Change election."

So far this political season, Freedom's Watch has been only a mild electoral force. The group, which was co-founded last summer by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, launched ads in two special elections earlier this year and has pledged to invest in Senate contests as well. But it has also been plagued by infighting and indecision over operational matters.

For Democrats, however, Freedom's Watch still serves as a political boogeyman, both for the resources it possesses and the politics it represents. The group recently signed former Bush strategist Karl Rove to a multi-thousand-dollar consulting deal. Tony Feather, Bush's former political director was recently hired to be the Freedom Watch's Senate races director. And Sheldon Adelson -- one of the world's richest men, an honorary chairman of the Republican Victory 2008, and a major fundraiser for John McCain - is overseeing and funding the organization's activities.

While the basic function of TheRealFreedomsWatch.org seems relatively straightforward (to cast attention and dispersion on Freedom's Watch) the details still need to be fleshed out, including what kind of resources and information the DCCC will devote to the site. The Democratic campaign committee has clashed with Freedom's Watch before. In April the DCCC filed a set of complaints with the FEC over advertisements the group had run in a Louisiana, which they contended had violated election law by taking a position on a candidate's voting record.