05/19/2011 02:15 pm ET | Updated Jul 19, 2011

Inside Democrats' Outside Money Machine

On a recent Tuesday morning, Democratic strategist Susan McCue sat in her bright, modern office in downtown Washington, DC, fuming over an editorial in the New York Times. The piece ripped two ex-Obama administration aides for leaving the White House to launch their own outside spending group for the 2012 presidential race. And it accused Democratic operatives in general of being "seduced by secret dollars." McCue had good reason to be upset: She is, after all, one of those operatives, a key player in the campaign-finance arms race against Karl Rove, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the rest of the right-wing dark-money machine. In her view, she wasn't seduced, but forced to fight to fire with fire. Or, as she put it: "What's the benefit of sitting on the sidelines and losing your majority in the Senate, losing more seats in the House, and possibly losing the White House?"

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