Bamboozling The American Voter


The Big Beat

IVIDENCE OF A COVERT CAMPAIGN to undermine the presidential primaries is rife, so it's curious that many within both the Democratic and Republican parties have ignored the actual elephant in the room in 2008. That would be Karl Rove, the G.O.P.'s longtime political strategist and a man many politicos still refer to as "The Architect". Accused of rigging the two previous presidential elections, this master of deceit would have us believe he's gone off to write op-eds and armchair quarterback this year's coverage for Fox News Channel.

Not so. According to an article in Time magazine last November, Republicans were organized in several states to throw their weight behind Senator Barack Obama, one of several candidates competing against Senator Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. While Rove's name isn't mentioned in the story, several former fundraisers and strategists for President Bush are identified.

With the help of Wall Street investment firms, these gentlemen flush Obama's coffers with cash early on in the race, something conservative deep pockets had not done for any candidate in their own party. With receipts topping $100 million in 2007, the freshman senator achieved a remarkable feat, given that he only first appeared on the national scene in 2004. In fact, the vast majority of Americans did not even hear of him until 2006.

To expedite the Rove strategy, a website and discussion forum called Republicans for Obama formed in 2006. The executive director of New Hampshire's Republican Party, Stephen DeMaura, later established “Stop Hillary Clinton (One Million Strong AGAINST Hillary)” on Facebook. At the same time, the Obama camp launched its own initiative targeted at Republican primary voters called "Be a Democrat For a Day".

The campaign included a video that was circulated in Florida, Nevada, Vermont and elsewhere explaining the process of switching parties for the election. In addition, many states nowadays hold open primaries, allowing citizens to vote for any candidate, regardless of their party affiliation. In Nebraska, the mayor of Omaha publicly rallied Republicans and Independents to caucus for Obama on February 9th. In Pennsylvania, Time reported on March 19th that Obama was running radio ads in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia asking Republicans to register as Democrats and then vote for him in the state's April 22nd primary.

The tactic, called crossover voting, allowed Obama to open up an unsurmountable lead in pledged delegates, particularly in the 12 red-state caucues that he won. Republicans for Obama was certainly not bashful in making its case in an email appeal linked to its home page before the March 4th contests. "Since Texas has an open primary," the appeal read, "Republicans and Independents should sign in at their polling place and request a Democratic ballot. They should then vote for Barack Obama... Just think, no more Clintons in the White House."

Then there was Iowa, which held the nation's first caucus on January 3rd. Here G.O.P. winner Mike Huckabee received just half as many votes as Clinton, who finished third behind Obama and John Edwards. According to, 43,000 out of 52,500 party changes for the caucus were switches to the Democrats. "Pre-caucus polling had [Obama] in a head-to-head battle among Democratic voters with Sen. Hillary Clinton", the post read. The reporter said pundits were attributing Obama's victory margin to independents.

Of the 17 states holding open primaries, Obama won 13 of them. And an analysis of the caucus results to date shows that a disproportionate number of delegates were awarded to Obama. DNC Chair Howard Dean and superdelegate Donna Brazile have since been accused of manipulating the primary schedule and caucus voting to insure Obama would prevail ast the party's nominee. Although she maintains she's neutral in this year's primaries, Brazile served as the DNC whipping boy when it stripped nearly 350 delegates from two Clinton strongholds, Florida and Michigan, in the lead-up to the primary season. The sanctions were imposed after both state legislatures scheduled early contests.

In fact, Donna Brazile may have been Rove's inside connection to the DNC. The two befriended each other in 2003 and have been trading political favors ever since. When he resigned from the Bush Administration last summer, Rove even called Brazile from Air Force One to break the news. "Mr. Rove's resignation is not a retirement," Brazile wrote in her newsletter afterward. "It's just another opportunity for him to create that lasting Republican majority he envisioned years ago and to spend his waking days doing what he so enjoys—beating Democrats in the alleys and gutters. Just ask Sen. Hillary Clinton, Mr. Rove's target when he called in to speak to Rush Limbaugh. He couldn't help it. Mr. Rove just had to take one last shot before riding out of town. More to come, Team Clinton."

Read it all at Lynette Long's blog. It's enough to make once wish for candy canes and sugar cookies

I think the watchword "worry" applies to more than just swing states. This election was over the moment the liberal left wing of the Democratic Party decided to play king maker. The Republicans may be too far to the right for many of us Independents out here, but they know when and how to woo undecided voters. I agree with Carville, get tough or lose the election. But somehow, I don't see the DNC insiders skipping their own self love-fest to develop a strategy to win.

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