DCCC GETS TARGETS’ ATTENTION…. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, working under the assumption that spending cuts aren’t nearly as popular as Republicans might think, launched an interesting ad campaign this week. Today, we saw the first signs that the offensive has gotten the Republicans’ attention.

The DCCC, using a variety of media, is targeting 19 House GOP incumbents, nearly all of whom represent districts won by President Obama in 2008, focusing on the Republican Study Committee’s plan to slash public spending. As part of the effort, radio ads note that the GOP plan would “cut education” and “cut science and technology research,” which would in turn cost jobs.

One of the 19 appears to be bothered.

One House Republican distanced himself from conservatives in his own party on the heels of ads by Democrats targeting him on education spending.

Freshman Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Va.) said he didn’t necessarily support all of the cuts proposed by the leadership of the Republican Study Committee (RSC)….

“Because I’m a member of that committee, somehow that means that I want to cut education by 40 percent or something like that?” Hurt told a local ABC affiliate. “I mean, it’s just totally made up out of whole cloth. I don’t know where it’s coming from.”

Well, it’s really not that tough to figure out. Hurt joined the Republican Study Committee, and the Republican Study Committee released a budget plan. The GOP proposal — which Hurt made no effort to denounce or distance himself from — would require massive cuts to practically every area of public life, including education. It’s not made up of whole cloth; it’s just the plan presented by the Republican Study Committee that Hurt joined.

But there’s another angle to this that struck me as interesting. Isn’t Hurt’s response the opposite of what he’s supposed to say? As an insurgent, far-right House Republican, I was under the impression he’s supposed to say, “You’re darn right I’m going to slash spending. That’s what voters want, right?”

Except that’s not his message at all. On the contrary, the congressman is effectively arguing, “What Republican Study Committee plan? I had nothing to do with that.”

Americans tend to like the idea of slashing spending, right up until they’re asked about specific areas of the budget, at which point most of the country likes their spending just fine, thank you very much.

That’s why the DCCC is going on the offensive, and why lawmakers like Hurt suddenly seem a little defensive.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.