The toughest campaign ads of 2012

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, campaigns across the country have already emptied most of their opposition research binders. The result? Some pretty brutal TV ads.     With input from close to a dozen campaign strategists, we came to a consensus on some of the toughest ads of the 2012 cycle so far. Let us know which ads we may have missed. 

"Never, Ever" This ad in the race for Arizona Senate came before Democratic nominee Richard Carmona had to apologize for telling a male debate moderator he was "prettier" than Candy Crowley. The persistent Republican attack on Carmona: he has issues with anger and women.


Tammy Duckworth This spot from the campaign of Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth easily qualifies as one of the nastiest of the year. It labels Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) a "deadbeat dad."


"Decide" This ad from Florida Republican Rep. Allen West wins for best use of an opponent's mugshot so far this cycle. The spot hinges on details of Democrat Patrick Murphy's 2003 arrest on a disorderly conduct charge.


"2003" Murphy's rebuttal to the West spot that featured the Democrat's mugshot also makes the list.


"Diana" Sen. Claire McCaskill's (D-Mo.) campaign is betting the fallout from her GOP opponent's "legitimate rape" remarks will ultimately sink his campaign. McCaskill recently rolled out a series of ads in which rape victims condemn Rep. Todd Akin's remarks direct to camera. 


"Movie" Here's a spot from the GOP primary that ensued after Rep. Thaddeus McCotter abruptly resigned earlier this year. Write-in candidate Nancy Cassis labeled opponent Kerry Bentivolio a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. Bentivolio called the spot outrageous. He won the primary over Cassis.  


Joe Arpaio A spot from Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio accuses his Democratic opponent Paul Penzone of abusing his wife, which Penzone has vigorously denied.  


"Unhinged" Here's a spot that's notable more for the debate exchange that preceeded it. In a race that's vying for the title of nastiest congressional contest in the country, incumbent California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman nearly came to blows. This Berman attack ad was the result:


"Understands" While the Soptic ad may have faded from view over the past couple of months, it still ranks among the most controversial and talked about spots of the 2012 cycle.

The ad, funded by the Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA Action, featured steelworker Joe Soptic whose wife died of cancer in 2006. The spot essentially blames Romney for her death.   

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Richard Hayes, Mitt Romney's garbage collector (at one of the many Romney homes), hit the presidential wannabe in a web ad produced by the public service workers' union AFSCME that was viewed 1.5 million times and caused quite a stir.

The comment system is classifying it as spam when I paste in the link, but find it for yourself by Googling "Meet Richard Hayes"

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