White House: Priority Is Legislation That “Doesn’t Signal A Change In Our Overall Stance on Trade

Fake Pollsters Trying to Discredit Obama, Democrats Claim

Barack Obama’s campaign is receiving increasing complaints about scam pollsters involved in dirty tricks operations to discredit the Democratic candidate.

Victims claim the fake pollsters work insinuations into their questions, designed to damage Obama. Those targeted in swing states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania include Jews, Christian evangelicals, Catholics and Latinos.

One of those to protest, Debbie Minden, who lives in a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood, Squirrel Hill, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, told the Guardian that the pollster had begun by asking her the usual questions about her background and who she would vote for.

But the pollster went on to ask Minden, who is Jewish, how she would vote if she knew that Obama was supported by Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that runs Gaza and was responsible for most of the suicide bombings against Israel. “It is scare tactics. It is terribly underhand,” she said.

The groups behind such polls have not been identified. One of the Republican groups working on behalf of John McCain’s campaign, the Republican Jewish Coalition, acknowledges carrying out a survey about Jewish voters’ views on Obama and Israel but insists it had been a legitimate exercise intended to test campaign messages on Jewish voters.

The RJC angrily dismissed comparisons between its exercise and a “push poll”, the technique of using fake surveys to sway voters. Its poll was restricted to 750 people whereas push polls usually involve phoning thousands of people. It asked 82 questions, only 10% of which were devoted to Obama.

The technique of push polling is part of the election battle being fought on the ground in the swing states where the margins of victory have been narrow in past elections.

On a bigger scale, teams from each campaign are engaged in legal fights over who is entitled to vote, with Republican groups trying to have people in largely Democratic neighbourhoods disqualified.

Push polling was used with stunning effect in the 2000 Republican primary campaign in South Carolina when people claiming to be pollsters insinuated that McCain, then fighting George W Bush for the party nomination, had illegitimately fathered a black child. Bush overturned McCain’s double-digit poll lead, and the origin of the calls was never fully established.

This year, the tactic surfaced again during the Republican primaries when calls were made highlighting the religion of one of the candidates, Mitt Romney – he is a Mormon, a religion viewed with suspicion by some on the Christian right.

An Obama campaign organiser in one of the swing states said there had been lots of complaints about push polling in his patch. Callers said questions frequently included a reference to the widespread belief that Obama is a Muslim, even though he has repeatedly said he is a Christian.

The organiser said another question was: would you be less likely to vote for Obama if Israel had to give up all of Jerusalem? “They make this shit up. They are good at it. The unassuming listener will not realise it is untrue,” he said.

Minden, a school psychologist, was not surprised to be polled. “It sounded like a normal poll. Was I voting? Demographics? Age? Where we live? Then a question about which party I supported, who I preferred on the economy, on foreign policy, questions like that.

“They said; ‘Are you Jewish?’ and I said ‘Yeh’. Then they said ‘if you knew Barack Obama was supported by Hamas, would it change your vote? Would it change your vote if you knew his church had made antisemitic statements?’. All the hot button issues on Israel.” She said she will vote for Obama as planned.

In Key West, Florida, another swing state, Joelna Marcus, 71, a retired professor, had a similar experience. She was asked if she would be influenced if she learned that Obama had donated money to the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

The Huffington Post website reported that a reader, named Rachel from Strongsville, Ohio, complained of a push poll that portrayed Obama as a radical left-winger who had voted to let convicted child sex offenders out early and to allow them to live near schools.

Online Poker, Fantasy Football, TMZ or a Reasonable Discussion of What Exactly Happened on 9/11?

I was alluding to the fact that people can spend hours investigating a succotash recipe or watch hours of mindless television or play video poker until the cows come home, eat and then go back

out but immediately scoff and mock a discussion of the worst attack on the U.S. in it’s history.

It’s disturbing.

Liberal architects investigating the World Trade Center Towers?

Please.

Bill Maher | March 7 2008 | Complete Show + New Rules

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Sen Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) revives campaign with Ohio, Texas wins

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N.Y. senator also takes Rhode Island, NBC projects; Obama wins Vermont

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BREAKING NEWS
NBC News and MSNBC
updated 12:51 a.m. ET, Wed., March. 5, 2008

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton threw up a roadblock on Sen. Barack Obama’s path to the Democratic presidential nomination by winning the giant Ohio and Texas primaries, NBC News projected Wednesday morning.

“For everyone here in Ohio and across America who’s been counted out and refused to be knocked out, and for everyone who has stumbled but stood right back up, and for everyone who works hard and never gives up, this one is for you,” Clinton said at a raucous rally in Columbus on a night when she took both of the two major prizes on offer.

Clinton, D-N.Y., and Obama, D-Ill., split the smaller Rhode Island and Vermont primaries, according to NBC News .

Delegates to the Democratic National Convention are awarded proportionally, and those numbers will not be available until all returns are in. Going into Tuesday’s balloting, Obama led Clinton by 1,194-1,037, according to NBC News’ count.

Meanwhile, Sen. John McCain of Arizona wrapped up the Republican nomination after he won all four contests, NBC News projected. His only remaining serious rival, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, withdrew from the race Tuesday night.

Ohio results unclear amid confusion
In all, there were 370 Democratic delegates at stake Tuesday night, most of them in Ohio and Texas, where Clinton had banked on stemming Obama’s momentum.

Balloting was described as confusing across Ohio, where election workers reported a record turnout of voters asked to use new or unfamiliar methods to tabulate votes after the turmoil of the 2000 election.

Voting was also described as confusing in Texas, where nearly half of delegates were being chosen in evening caucuses after the polls closed. The Clinton campaign alleged that Obama supporters were confiscating precinct chairmen’s manuals at the caucuses, as well as locking out Clinton supporters.

The process did not discourage Texas Democrats, who, because the nomination remained open, had their first chance in many years to have an impact on the contest. It appeared that the turnout would set a state record, and some polling places were still open more than two hours after closing time to accommodate voters waiting in line.

“This is the first time that I can remember, maybe in the last 20 years, that voting in the Democratic primary, as I have, makes such a big difference in the national election,” said Robin Melvin, a voter in Austin.

Candidates hold bases in exit polls
Just a few weeks ago, Clinton had a strong lead in Ohio and Texas polls, and her campaign expected the states to stand as bulwarks against Obama’s string of victories that gained momentum on Super Tuesday.

 

Final polls going into Tuesday’s voting showed he had closed the margin significantly, but surveys of voters as they left their polling places in Ohio indicated that Clinton held onto her robust support from groups that have been the foundation of her candidacy, taking strong margins among white, blue-collar and older voters.

The Ohio exit polls showed that Obama did not do as well as he had in recent contests in eroding her support from those groups. Clinton also did a bit better among Ohio voters who chose their candidate in recent days, suggesting that she may have benefited from her aggressive attacks on what she called his lack of seasoning.

In Texas, the two candidates did best in parts of the state where they spent the most time campaigning — Clinton in predominantly Latino South Texas and Obama in major metropolitan areas and Austin, the capital and the state’s most liberal city. And they did well among their core constituencies.

Clinton ran especially strong among Latinos, whom she had counted on in a state where she and former President Bill Clinton have political ties dating to the early 1970s. Exit polls indicated that she was winning two-thirds of the Latino vote. Likewise, Obama won by strong margins among black voters, with a nearly 6-to-1 edge.

The difference may have been in the demographics: African-Americans accounted for 20 percent of the Democratic primary voters, but Latinos made up more than 30 percent.

 

“I think tonight’s going to be a huge night,” said Terry McAuliffe, Clinton’s campaign chairman.

“It feels very good,” he said in an interview on MSNBC. “I think we’re going to win both Texas and Ohio.”

But Obama sounded a confident note Tuesday night, telling cheering supporters in San Antonio that the race was still a toss-up.

“No matter what happens tonight, we have nearly the same delegate lead as we did this morning, and we are on our way to winning this nomination,” he said.

David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama, argued that the Ohio result actually demonstrated Obama’s strength, noting that pre-election polls showed him trailing Clinton by as many as 20 points just three weeks ago.

In an interview with NBC News, Axelrod predicted that the night would end up being a “wash,” saying nothing would be decided until primaries later in Wyoming, Mississippi and Pennsylvania.

Ohio, Texas critical for Clinton
Some of Clinton’s supporters — her husband, the former president, among them — agreed that she needed to outpoll Obama in both Texas and Ohio to sustain her candidacy.

“We’re going on, we’re going strong, and we’re going all the way,” she said.

But Obama was just as optimistic.

“We can stand up with confidence and clarity,” he said “We are on our way to winning this nomination.”

It takes 2,025 delegates to win the Democratic nomination, and slightly more than 600 remained to be picked in the 10 states that vote after Tuesday.

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