Dirty Tricks Bloom In Iowa

By: by John Solomon
By: by John Solomon

(Washingtonpost.com With the Iowa caucuses less than a day away, last-minute dirty tricks were in full bloom.

Mitt Romney's campaign reported some of its supporters in the state were getting phone calls directing them to the wrong caucus locations for tomorrow's vote.

"We have received reports from Romney supporters who have gotten calls providing inaccurate information about the Governor and caucus locations. There is no excuse for these types of activities and they have no part in the caucus process," Romney spokesman Matt Rhoades said.

Also, Fred Thompson's campaign said one staff member and several of its supporters received computerized calls that targeted Thompson and John McCain for criticism.

One supporter, according to the campaign, said the call starts with a live operator saying, "Do you have a minute to listen to a taped message from Fred Thompson?" The caller next plays a tape of Thompson talking about how he doesn't have the "fire in his belly." The operator then returns and says "Do you really think a man like this could beat Hillary Clinton?"

Even special interest groups weren't immune.

The FairTax.org group, which wants to replace the federal income tax with a national sales tax, has played a big role in Mike Huckabee's rise in Iowa. The group has featured Huckabee and his support for its tax plan prominently throughout the year and bought the 400 tickets to Iowa's summer straw poll that helped Huckabee finish a surprising second.

So when a bogus press release emerged Wednesday in Iowa claiming the group was withdrawing an endorsement of Huckabee, the FairTax leaders quickly sprang into action with a press release decrying a "last minute dirty campaign trick."

The group hasn't endorsed any of the candidates, according to FairTax spokesman Ken Hoagland - it simply highlights those who that have pledged to support its tax plan. And because Huckabee has campaigned on the tax plan more than any other candidate, he has gotten more of the group's attention, Hoagland said.

"Someone has issued a press release this morning claiming the FairTax Iowa campaign has 'rescinded' its endorsement of Mike Huckabee," said Hoagland. "But we have never endorsed Mike Huckabee nor any other candidate; Mike Huckabee and several other candidates have endorsed us."

"The good people of Iowa deserve better than cheap campaign tricks that, like the tax code itself, are designed not to enlighten but to conceal truth from the public," he said.

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