Republicans Rain Negative Automated Calls on Voters in Swing States
By Patrick Healy and Jo Becker, The New York Times
Saturday 18 October 2008
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The McCain campaign has launched negative robocalls in a number of swing states.
Voters in at least 10 swing states are receiving hundreds of thousands of automated telephone calls - uniformly
negative and sometimes misleading - that the Republican Party and the McCain campaign are financing this week as they
struggle to keep more states from drifting into the Democratic column.
Senator John McCain, the Republican nominee for president, has denounced such phone calls in the past: In the 2000
primaries, Mr. McCain was a target of misleading calls that included innuendo about his family, and he blamed them in
part for his loss to George W. Bush. This January, too, in South Carolina, Mr. McCain described the calls against him as
"scurrilous stuff," and his campaign set up a "truth squad" to debunk them.
On Friday, a Democratic official in Minnesota said he had received one of these so-called robocalls and had tracked it
to a company owned by a prominent Republican consultant, Jeff Larson. According to published news reports, Mr. Larson
and his previous firm helped develop the phone calls in 2000 that took aim at Mr. McCain.
A spokesman for the McCain campaign could not say Friday night whether it had contracted with Mr. Larson's current
company, FLS Connect. Phone messages left for Mr. Larson were not answered Friday, nor were messages left at a
subcontractor, King TeleServices, which is making the actual calls to voters in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Democrat, Christopher Shoff, a commissioner in Freeborn County, said the automated call described Mr.
Obama as putting "Hollywood above America" because he attended a fund-raiser in Beverly Hills hours after the federal
government seized control of the insurance giant American International Group. The call was first reported by The
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