‘Voters’ Who Broke Story on Romney Calls On Romney Payroll

I thought that I was going to have a nice quiet Thanksgiving. Perhaps not.

Erick Erickson at Redstate (disclosure I too contribute to Redstate) has uncovered some more information on the Mitt Romney phone scandal. Leon Wolf, another Redstate contributor who today endorsed Mitt Romney, also pointed out that this happened previously (described then) when Leon was on the Brownback campaign.

The basic facts are that a Romney staffer, Marshan Roth contacted the Salt Lake Tribune, identified herself as "leaning towards Romney", and told her story:

Marshan Roth, of Fairfield, Iowa, got a call on Wednesday night. It started out like a regular poll, she says, but then asked positive questions about Sen. John McCain and delved into disparaging things about Romney. She was asked whether she knew that Mormons have ‘baptized thousands of dead people’ and that the Book of Mormon was more important than the Bible to Mormons. ‘It was sick. It really was. It made me just furious,’ says Roth, who is leaning toward backing Romney. ‘If you didn’t know enough about McCain, you’d think he was the white knight coming in on his charger saving the world and that Mitt Romney was tantamount to the devil

Erick points out that Roth receives $500/month from the Romney campaign.

Similarly, Rose Kramer, another Romney staffer who describes herself as "a supporter," told a McClatchy reporter her story:

Rose Kramer was at her Dubuque, Iowa, home, waiting for the TV show ‘House’ to start at 8 p.m. Tuesday when a pollster called and started asking her about John McCain. After a few polite questions, the caller started saying unflattering things about Mitt Romney. Kramer, a Romney supporter, got so angry that she missed the opening of her show. ‘I was still ranting at my husband,’ she said.

Rose isn’t just a supporter. She is a staffer, making $1,000/month. She is also a co-chair of Romney’s Iowa Faith & Values Steering Committee.

It doesn’t stop there. Rose told a different story to Real Clear Politics:

Rose Kramer, an Iowa voter who backs Romney, told Politics Nation the call, which she received around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, began with typical screening questions on whether she planned to caucus and if she had caucused before. After an initial ballot test — on which she says Romney’s name was listed last — the pollster offered five questions about John McCain, all of which she characterized as ‘glowing.’ Kramer said she asked the caller whether he was working for a campaign; he said no, his was an independent research group.

First, when Rose talked to McClatchy, it was Tuesday 8pm. With Real Clear Politics, it was 8:30 on Wednesday. She lied to one of the reporters.

Second, in both (all three?) cases, the Romney staffers highlighted the McCain questions. It seems to me that the Romney campaign was deliberately pushing the McCain angle.

Third, either the staffers didn’t disclose their relationship to the reporters or the reporters didn’t disclose it in their stories. My money is on the staffers, something that, as Leon pointed out before, Romney consultants in Iowa have done in the past.

This raises several questions:

First, is there any evidence that this poll contacted anyone in Iowa who was not a Romney staffer or supporter? If not, is there any evidence that the calls actually occurred? Could this be a story manufactured by the Romney campaign? After all, Western Wats only seems to talk through another Romney official, Justin Hart.

Second, were they directed by either Boston or Des Moines to deliver these messages? If so, were they told to hide their relationship with the Romney campaign?

Is Romney auditioning for FEMA Administrator?

UPDATE: Jonathan Martin had reported a non-Romney supporting phone call recipient.