21 December 2007

A Must Read Book: How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative

Well, the continuing unfolding scandal of the 2002 New Hampshire phone jamming scandal has provided quite a lot of insight into how Republicans work, and How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative, by Allen Raymond, is one of the products of the scandal.

As a result of his being fingered as the fall guy for the phone jamming, he was guilty as hell (served 3 months), but he was a foot soldier sacrificed in an attempt to protect the higher ups.
First, we have a McClatchy review of an advance copy of the book, which notes that James Tobin, he former regional director for both the RNC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (convicted and now on appeal), made 22 calls to the White House *cough* Rove *cough* in the 24 hours surrounding the phone jamming.

As soon as the investigation started, Tobin and Charles McGee, the executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, denied all knowledge, and basically pretended not to know Raymond. In the days following the election, when Raymond "when he phoned Tobin after Sununu's 19,000-vote election victory to tell him that a Manchester, N.H., police officer was looking into the scheme, Tobin responded, 'I don't know what you're talking about.'"

Also of interest is his story of the related at TPMmuckraker:

To set the scene: Raymond got a call in 2000* from two former colleagues in New Jersey who ran a consulting shop called Jamestown Associates. They were working for Dick Zimmer, who was running against Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), the incumbent, and they were pulling out all the stops. (Ed. Note: This post originally stated that this happened in 2002 -- that was my mistake, not Raymond's.)

They'd already succeeded in getting a Green Party candidate on the ballot to drain liberal votes from Holt (a favorite GOP trick). And they had already put Raymond's firm to work calling Green-oriented households and urging them to support the Green candidate.

But what came next was "even better":

[Tom Blakely from Jamestown Associates] called me up and asked, "How do you guys find voice talent?"

"Well, I've got a whole catalog of different voices on CDs. I've got 'single Northeastern female,' I've got 'Southern belle' -- what are you looking for?"

"We're targeting Democrats of Eastern European descent using a surname select and geopolitical filter."

"Oh," I said, quickly doing the polarizing-voter math in my head. "How about 'angry black man'?"

"Yeah, that sounds good. What's his voice sound like?"

So I cued up one particular actor's CD on my computer and put the phone to the speaker. The track I played was one in which the actor was deliberately playing up a street gang character.

After listening for a few seconds, Blakely said, "That's the guy!"

So we had the actor record a spot over the telephone saying, "I'm calling as a Democrat, asking you to vote for the Democratic nominee. We need your vote for Holt."

I'm not saying that all Eastern European whites are racists, but, no matter where or when an election is held, there is a always a cultural divide that you can rely on. The message was "I'm ghetto black calling you, racist Ukrainian guy, and scaring the crap out of you because you probably think that if you don't vote for the Democrat I'm going to come to your house and take care of some business."

The calls were extremely highly targeted, household by household, no message ever left on an answering machine. We wanted the message heard only by people whose reaction would be "I'm not voting for Holt because he uses scary black men to call my house."

We made calls to Democratic union households supporting Zimmer, taped by actors putting on thick Spanish accents, figuring union workers were the voters who felt most threatened by immigration. The objective was to get them to throw up their hands and stay home on Election Day. We were just forcing those people to make a decision that was true to who they really were. If you want to question someone's character, look to the people who stayed home because of those calls.

Remember -- they were Democrats; they were supposed to be the tolerant ones.

Zimmer lost the election by 481 votes and the Green Party candidate picked up 2 percent in the polls.
Seriously, if it weren't for bigotry the Republicans would barely outpoll the Monster Raving Loony Party.

BTW, you have to love this comment by Raymond, "As for his three months in a Pennsylvania prison, he wrote: 'After 10 full years inside the GOP, 90 days among honest criminals wasn't really any great ordeal.'"


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