An Edwards Staffer’s Nevada Observations about Rough Tactics Deployed by Obama and Clinton Teams

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This note below was sent by a field worker for the Edwards campaign in Nevada. It was sent to close friends (not to me) and seems like an honest take by this individual — rather than something affected by spin other than a slight bias perhaps that one must expect towards his own candidate.
We are used to hearing complaints by now from Obama’s camp about Hillary Clinton’s campaign tactics and Hillary’s camp about Barack Obama’s — but this is someone noting mischief from both the Clinton and Obama operations:

I’m still recovering from one of the most brutal weeks of my life. . .
The caucus system was an abomination of mismanagement by the Nevada Democratic Party, amid statewide cheating by the leading two candidates.
It turns out that since this wasn’t a ‘federal election’ but a state run caucus, the usual voter registration requirements evidently don’t apply. So you could bus in loads of college kids from Iowa or New Hampshire in the last two weeks, who were not required to show ID, and who caucused like Nevadans.
Also lots of members of the Culinary Union in Vegas aren’t American citizens, but it seems that many people thought they were entitled to participate anyway. So we got screwed.
Nobody knows how widespread this was, but anecdotally it was huge. Busing in out-of-staters may even not have been illegal. Both Clinton and Obama had people actively interfering with the orderly process all over the state — shouting down and intimidating appointed caucus chairs — many of whom were pressured into an unwelcome job with insufficient training and no backup.
I heard of tugs of war where people physically attempted to seize papers from the appointed caucus chairs, they improperly demonstrated en masse where only one person with a sign was allowed, and of precincts where the numbers were called in, but the packets of ballot records were never turned in, etc.
That’s how we went from polling around 30% to pulling just 4% of the delegates. In precinct after precinct they had enough outsiders show up to keep us from being viable and obtaining any delegates. If we needed 12, we only had 11, and got nothing on final count. That’s how it went.
This was the dirtiest type of hardball I’ve ever seen, but nobody really wants to examine this process very closely.
But I can’t lay all the blame on the other campaigns. Our campaign made plenty of mistakes too.
The only thing I can feel good about is that. . .my counties were almost all in double digits — well ahead of the statewide average. Still I’ve never felt so beat up and emotionally drained.

Maybe this kind of note will help rank-and-file Democrats feel better that if either Obama or Clinton win the Democratic nomination, each would be a far tougher, hold the line operation in any replay of the debacles in Florida in 2000 or Ohio in 2004.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

14 comments on “An Edwards Staffer’s Nevada Observations about Rough Tactics Deployed by Obama and Clinton Teams

  1. BillB says:

    Steve, I was an Obama precinct captain in Las Vegas, at a site about 15 minutes off the strip.
    And I can tell you that a lot of us came away royally pissed off at what we viewed as a litany of dirty tactics by the Clinton camp that seem to have proliferated throughout Clark County… with the tacit support of the county’s Dem party machine, which is run by Rory Reid, the Senate majority leader’s son.
    It is really sickening to read these attempts to portray the two campaigns with some kind of MSM-style equivalency… b/c in my experience it just wasn’t the case. Not even close.
    I’m also getting fed up with the insinuations in the left-liberal blogosphere that Obama supporters are “whining” or “naive” about political warfare. What bullshit. I’m a 40 year old professional with plenty of experience in past political activism and campaigning.
    I’ve been finding it inexplicable that bloggers who claim to be adherents of the 50-state strategy, or “people powered” politics, are apparently afraid to criticize the very Establishment they’ve allegedly been fighting against within the Dem party.
    Bloggers I respect and read regularly, such as yourself, Josh Marshall, Digby, et al, seem willing to defend the Clintons with the same Establishment-like language that was and is used against the blogosphere.
    I don’t quite get it and I wish there was more discussion of it.
    BB

    Reply

  2. Edrie says:

    Steve, using bullying tactics and deliberately interfering with voting doesn’t make me think either of these will be “tough” in November. It makes me think they don’t deserve to be the nominee.

    Reply

  3. Edrie says:

    Steve, using bullying tactics and deliberately interfering with voting doesn’t make me think either of these will be “tough” in November. It makes me think they don’t deserve to be the nominee.

    Reply

  4. Margaret says:

    This certainly explains why polling was tied – and Edwards ended up with 4%.
    Not surprised at the sleaziness and aggressiveness of Obama and Hillary supporters though. They did it in Iowa too.
    Go Edwards!

    Reply

  5. Laura says:

    The lesson we’re supposed to learn from the Clinton and Obama campaigns using sleazy, Republican tactics in Nevada is that they would be tough in an election fraud situation? The lesson I learned from this is that there are major scumballs in both parties.
    And it only reinforces my resolve to help John Edwards win the Democratic nomination, because his campaign has consistently been above such tactics.

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  6. Chuck Dupree says:

    I too am amazed that ANYONE, let alone an intelligent observer of the political scene, could think that this sort of behavior is a positive in any sense. Being wrong on the issues is not compensated for by cheating at the polls, or in this case the caucuses. This is why I will probably not be voting for the Democrat this fall.

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  7. The Bobs says:

    I don’t buy this “all over the state” crap. I caucused here in Carson City, and we saw none of these nasty tactics. Maybe it happened in Las Vegas, but it sure didn’t happen here. for example, as the caucus was ending, a woman who was Hillary’s precinct captain said to everyone, “remember, whoever wins in the end, we will all be working together.” And this was after Hillary lost our precinct to Obama, as she did in nearly all the non-Vegas precincts. Everyone I saw was polite, respectful and very concerned about beating the Republicans.

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  8. Hedley Lamarr says:

    If these undemocratic caucuses can be gamed, all the more reason for getting rid of them.

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  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It amazes me that Steve can post such as he just did about Cheney, showing an awareness of just how far our republic has fallen, then, two threads later, cavalierly just dismiss the despicable campaign tactics of two candidates that are so unabashedly showing themselves to be arrogant scum. Whats worse, we are supposed to see this in a positive light, a sign that neither one of them will tolerate the kinds of electoral fraud we saw in Florida and Ohio??
    Steve, I’m telling ya man, you need to get the hell out of that town. Its corrupting you.

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  10. Kathy Kadane says:

    Or maybe it means they’re both political cheats — you know, the ‘chalk on the cleats’ thing, made famous by Cheney and Rove?
    For those of you well off enough, maybe it’s time to move to Switzerland.

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  11. Carroll says:

    Another reason the caucus system should be changed.
    And get rid of touch screen voting machines.
    I don’t even know if my vote counted last time. I was in one of the counties in my state that couldn’t tally the votes properly.

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  12. jc says:

    It doesn’t make me feel better…I don’t have any faith that the voters actually decide who ends up in office.
    I read that in Nevada, one of the campaigns told their caucus goers to arrive early (in the casinos I think), then closed caucus room doors a half hour early, shutting the others out, at multiple locations. This is not the first example of cheating I’ve read about in this election cycle.
    The election of 2000 really opened my eyes. I had never realized how many ballots are never counted. I had never heard of all the ways voters can be disenfranchised, and I hadn’t thought about how the electoral college system makes so many of our votes worthless.
    How many times have you heard a politician fret over why more Americans don’t vote? Duh!
    We obviously can’t trust the electronic voting machines. In 2004, after exit polls showed a win for John Kerry in contradiction with the machine results, we heard that exit polls commonly overstate votes for Democrats compared with final totals. Why would this be?
    I don’t understand why we don’t hear a peep about this from our elected officials. Why aren’t they working to make sure our votes count? If anyone has a theory on this, I’d love to hear it.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/2008/01/paul-alleges-bo.html
    Paul Alleges Boondoggle on the Bayou
    January 24, 2008 6:08 PM
    ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf: Not too many people paid too much attention to the Louisiana Caucus on Wednesday. John McCain won and Ron Paul logged his second second place finish of the primarycaucus season after his showing at the Nevada caucus last Saturday.
    For Paul, R-Tex., Louisiana is really more of a third place finish since finishing ahead of the winner, John McCain, was “uncommitted pro-life.”
    But the Paul campaign says they got second place and maybe should have gotten first.
    In a statement this afternoon, they allege that Paul supporters were forced to file provisional ballots even when they were pre-registered as delegates for Paul and they accuse the Louisiana Republican party of changing the rules at the last minute.
    Paul campaign statement:
    The failure of the Louisiana GOP to properly determine who was and wasn’t eligible to vote threw this entire process into disarray,” said Ron Paul campaign manager Lew Moore. “The party needs to correct this mistake by counting all the votes immediately, and releasing the results.”
    Due to mistakes by the Louisiana GOP, hundreds of voters were forced to file provisional ballots, including nearly 500 that could change the outcome of the election. According to party officials, caucus locations relied on a voter list from November 1, 2007 despite the fact that under caucus rules, voters must have registered Republican by November 30, 2007.
    In multiple instances, state-certified Ron Paul delegates that were on the ballot were forced to file a provisional ballot despite the fact they were pre-approved as delegates.
    The Louisiana State GOP also changed the rules at the last minute to allow other candidates to file more delegates. At the time of the original January 10 deadline, Ron Paul had the largest number of delegates pledged to him. The party then changed the rules to give other candidates until January 12 to file more delegates.
    It’s a confusing process in Louisiana and a trip to the Louisiana Republican Party does not clear things up. They don’t even assign numerical totals to show how big the gap between places one and two and three were. In fact, at the website, a statement from party chairman Roger Villere Jr. only says Paul “appear to have captured the next highest number of delegate positions.”
    But Villere did praise Paul’s supporters for having dash.
    “I applaud the supporters of Congressman Paul for their enthusiasm and superior organizational ability. Our Party needs the infusion of new activists who have both political skill and a passion for protecting the freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution,” he said. “I left the caucus with a renewed commitment to promote our core Republican principles of limited government and individual freedom, thanks to the zeal displayed by Congressman Paul’s Louisiana supporters,” Villere says on the website.
    According to the website, more than 10,000 Louisana Republicans met yesterday to elect delegates to their state convention. Those delegates, led by those currently lobbying for uncommitted, will ultimately award delegates to candidates for the Republican National Convention.
    ABC News tried to speak to an official representative of the Louisiana Republican party, but the phone number listed on the website http://www.lagop.com rings busy.

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee Steve, what debacles? You mean the debacles Conyers tried to expose, when these effing cowards like Hillary and Obama deserted him and left him high and dry, consigned to some basement anteroom?
    Yeah, right, we can count on them to “hold the line”.
    You’re dreamin’.
    About the only conclusion we can draw from these caucus tactics is that these scumballs have no sense of ethics, fairplay, morality, or respect for the law. No suprise there.

    Reply

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