Attack ad admission in heated congressional race

His challenger, Republican Renee Ellmers, was seen as a long shot until the video emerged in June.

Click here to see the video

The video went viral and many suspected the confrontation had a purpose.

And on Thursday, a front page New York Times story revealed that National Republican Party strategists acknowledged they were behind the episode.

It was apparently part of a broader plan devised to regain control of the US House after President Barack Obama was elected.

Etheridge, they say, was one of several Democrats targeted for what they called "guerilla tactics," like chasing down Democratic members with a video camera and pressing them to explain their votes or positions."

Etheridge later apologized for his behavior, but the damage was already done.

ABC11 Eyewitness News spoke with Congressman Etheridge Thursday evening and he said he was not ready to make a public comment, but privately he said he knew it was a set-up.

Still, his supporters say the video may have done him in.

"I've never known Bob Etheridge to be rude to anybody or not listen and the thing ... he was set up in Washington and that was obvious to anyone who watched it or say it that is was a set up thing," Former NC Senator Robert Morgan said.

Ellmers used the video in one of her campaign ads.

In a statement to ABC11 an Ellmers' advisor said, "Renee Ellmers did not have any prior knowledge of this or any other type of Republican plan to re-take the US House. Furthermore concerning the video clip of Congressman Etheridge. we learned about the incident when it hit the internet."

The Republican strategists said one reason they went public was because nothing they say now can influence the election or at least the outcome.

Some political observers say the incident may just be part of a new round of dirty politics.

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