You think your campaign is ugly.
A Republican official is accusing Democrats of using dirty tricks to notify voters that a GOP candidate was accused in the killing of two unarmed Iraqi prisoners.
Chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party, Phillip Stephens, wrote in his blog that voters in the district had received push polling calls telling them that House Republican candidate Ilario Pantano had once been charged with murder.
If the voter indicates they are supporting Pantano – the call then turns. With the sound of a boiler room operation in the background as described by the angry voters receiving the calls, the voter is then asked politely if they were more likely to vote for Pantano if they knew that he had been accused of murder (referring out of context to his Marine career of killing two terrorists in Fallujah that has been widely publicized – which incidentally was an incident in which Pantano killed terrorists just weeks after the bodies of dead Americans were dragged through the streets of Fallujah). They also ask if they were more likely to vote for Pantano if they knew he once worked for Goldman Sachs (he was a trader there years ago and was not in management).
“Push polls” are a negative campaign tactic that disguise themselves are regular polls in an attempt to influence voters. Stephens admits that the technique is used by both Republicans and Democrats.
The Republican official put the blame for the push poll squarely on Rep. Mike McIntyre, Patano’s Democratic opponent.
Those are the tactics the McIntyre campaign has resorted to and voters feel violated. They are telling their friends today about what they are discovering about the real McIntyre who will most likely deny responsibility for the unethical tactic – which is the reason you do push polling – to avoid direct responsibility.
Patano was cleared of the murder charges in 2005. Salon‘s Justin Elliot explained the case:
Last month we told you about Iraq War vet Ilario Pantano, a Republican congressional hopeful who has a real shot at taking out incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC). In Iraq in 2004 Pantano shot two unarmed Iraqi prisoners, unloading up to 60 rounds, and then placed a sign next to their bodies with a Marine slogan, “No better friend, no worse enemy.”
Charges of premeditated murder against Pantano were aired in 2005 in an Article 32 hearing, which helps determine whether there is enough evidence to go forward to a court martial. The military ultimately agreed with Pantano’s version of events, in which the two Iraqi men made a threatening movement toward him, and decided to drop the charges. Officials also opted not to subject Pantano to nonjudicial punishment for desecrating the bodies of the two men (by reloading his rifle and emptying another magazine into the men after they were already dead).
Pantano took to his Facebook page to tell supporters, “McIntyre has started running a very nasty, very negative push poll. … We are beginning to see how the big boys spend their money on job security. Everyone spread the word to our army to always remain patient and respect.”
In a statement, the Pantano campaign wrote, “McIntyre’s campaign is so desperate that they have even chosen to run a push poll personally slandering Pantano and questioning his military service despite McIntyre’s seven votes to abandon our troops in Iraq, and his vote against the surge.”
Pantano’s camp offered no evidence that McIntyre actually sponsored the push poll.