(CNN) – Georgia Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn's campaign is defending Monday an early campaign plan detailing challenges the U.S. Senate hopeful might face in courting voters and outreach strategy, after the internal memo was leaked.
Republicans have jumped on the document, obtained by the conservative National Review, as an effort by the Democrat's campaign to exploit voters, while Nunn's team is pushing back, underscoring that the document was "...a draft of a document that was written eight months ago" and was always subject to alternation.
"Like all good plans, they change" campaign manager Jeff DiSantis said in a statement.
"But what hasn't changed and is all the more clear today is that Michelle's opponents are going to mischaracterize her work and her positions, and part of what we've always done is to prepare for the false things that are going to be said, DiSantis added.
Nunn is facing off in November against businessman David Perdue, who last week edged out longtime Rep. Jack Kingston in the GOP Senate runoff. The winner in November will succeed retiring Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
The 144-page memo, written in December, covers planning operations for the campaign. It describes possible pitfalls connecting with rural voters and also discusses the necessity to secure the Jewish donors as well as the importance of minority turn out.
Nunn's time running the charity Points of Light is also highlighted as an issue in the memo, given the organization's "grants to problematic entities" and "service awards to inmates, terrorists."
The organization gave $33,000 in donations to Islamic Relief USA, which is independent of, but has links to Islamic Relief Worldwide, an international organization that's been accused of ties to terrorist groups including Hamas.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee said Nunn's campaign has tried to "deceive voters and hide a candidate's true beliefs from public view."
"The hundred plus pages of Michelle Nunn's campaign plan reveals a deliberate effort to manipulate Georgia voters and hide the fact that Nunn's campaign is a proxy for the agenda of Barack Obama and Harry Reid," Ward Baker, the NRSC's political director, said in a statement.
"The entire Nunn plan is dirty, offensive, and emblematic of why voters are so disenchanted with politics."
Big bucks and political pedigree
Coverage of the leaked strategy, a rare view into a campaign's inner thoughts and concerns, could make Nunn's prospects a bit tougher, as she tries to follow in the footsteps of her father, Sam Nunn, who's a household name in Georgia after representing the state in the Senate for nearly a quarter century. One of the potential problems noted in the document is the possibility Nunn will be perceived as "not a 'real' Georgian," as she grew up mostly around Washington, D.C. while her father served in Congress.
The battle in Georgia will now turn into a battle of big bucks. Nunn raked in nearly $3.5 million the past three months. Meanwhile, Perdue poured more than $3 million of his own money into his campaign during the primary. Perdue, a former CEO of Dollar General and Reebok, is first cousins with former two-term governor Sonny Perdue.
Democrats have a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party). But in the midterms, the party is defending 21 of the 36 seats up for grabs, with half of those Democratic-held seats in red or purple states.
Democrats see Georgia and Kentucky, where Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell faces a challenging re-election, as the only two states in which they hope to flip Republican-held seats.
Georgia in play?
Georgia has been a GOP stronghold recently: It's been 14 years since a Democrat won a statewide gubernatorial or U.S. Senate election, and 22 years since the party carried the state in a presidential contest. But Democrats think Georgia's changing demographics are putting the state in play.
The most recent nonpartisan polling suggested a close contest right now.
"I think Georgia is going to be a very competitive race between two very well-funded candidates," said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor for the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, another top campaign handicapper. "This race won't be won or lost because of money. Republicans have a structural advantage in the state but we have to see how Perdue and Nunn perform as the heat gets turned up and the lights get brighter in the race,"
With the GOP primary finally over, the general election race will now get hotter. The big question is whether Nunn is ready for the soaring temperatures.
"Nunn has gotten a free ride and remains somewhat untested when it comes to taking hits and answering charges," said Jennifer Duffy of the non-partisan Cook Political Report, another top political handicapper.
"Perdue is now somewhat battle-tested from the primary, but we have to see how Nunn performs when the heavy attacks come her way- and they are coming," Gonzales added.