Let me start with a story.
Several years ago, in a swing House seat, volunteers for the Democratic candidate, started calling the finance committee of the Republican candidate, three days out. The message? That the Democratic candidate was a Jew and "we can’t let another Jew get in office." The Democrat volunteers identified themselves on the call as Republican volunteers. The Republican campaign was inundated with outraged phone calls from the finance team demanding that they stop. A couple of hours later, the Republican campaign obtained solid evidence that it was Democrat volunteers. And the Republican candidate called the Democrat candidate and threatened legal action of the calls didn’t stop. The Democrat candidate denied having anything to do with it, but the calls stopped within about 15 minutes of the calls.
The point is that sleazy, disgusting things happen in the world of telephones. And in the hurly-burly world of politics, there are plenty of examples of things not seeming what they are. And they involve vile attacks, usually bigoted, hitting highly targeted lists of people.
I use that as an introduction to the whole IA/NH anti-Romney push poll stories. Phil Elliott at the AP and the Politico’s Jonathan Martin have stories about this. Several facts jumped out at me that make it clear that this is a made for outrage, made for media thing.
First, they called a Romney supporting IA State Rep. From the AP story:
In Iowa, Romney supporter and state representative Ralph Watts got a call on Wednesday.
"I was offended by the line of questioning," Watts said. "I would be equally as offended if someone called and said in the nature of if, ‘you know the Catholic Church supported pedophile priests.’ I don’t think it has any place in politics."
My educated guess is that Rep. Watts was put on the list because he would report it to the Romney campaign and the media. I would assume that the next call by Rep. Watts was to the Romney IA state director. Again, made for media and made for outrage.
Second, the questions. It seems clear that there was an attempt to link this to the John McCain campaign. How do we know? According to Jonathan Martin, a bunch of the questions were positives about John McCain. Did McCain do this? Of course not. It doesn’t make any sense for them to be doing these in Iowa, where they basically aren’t competing. They are low on cash. And everyone knows that John McCain is a war hero. What’s the plus? Furthermore, as recent activity as indicated, they understand that they need to go through Rudy Giuliani, not Mitt Romney.
Third, there was also an attempt to muddy the waters by linking it to former vendor for Giuliani’s pollster. Although there is plenty of evidence that the Giuliani campaign is not behind it, at least not directly.
I have another question. If someone is trying to slime Mitt Romney with his religion, do they really go to a Utah-based call center run by people in Romney’s world? Wouldn’t they know that it would get out? What does it tell us if it doesn’t?