Open Thread: Will Senator Obama Suffer Racist Dirty Tricks?

(photo: Wa-J) This is an open thread on some comments from Republican operative Allen Raymond on racist dirty tricks used in recent campaigns. What do you make of his comments, and do you think there will be more? Please comment below as you see fit.

Some introduction first. I was talking with a friend recently about how the mainstream Republicans and the McCain campaign, or groups allied with them, will attack Senator Obama as we get closer to the November vote. Today, I belatedly discovered the tell-all book by Allen Raymond, former GOP consultant involved in New Hampshire phone jamming. Paul Kiel did this review that includes an account of some of the actions playing on whites’ racism that have worked in political campaigns.

Kiel first reviews the history:

Raymond got a call in 2000 from two former colleagues in New Jersey who ran a consulting shop…. They were working for Dick Zimmer, who was running against Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), the incumbent, and they were pulling out all the stops. They’d already succeeded in getting a Green Party candidate on the ballot to drain liberal votes from Holt (a favorite GOP trick). And they had already put Raymond’s firm to work calling Green-oriented households and urging them to support the Green candidate.

Then Kiel quotes from the book thus:

[They] called me up and asked, “How do you guys find voice talent?” “Well, I’ve got a whole catalog of different voices on CDs. I’ve got ‘single Northeastern female,’ I’ve got ‘Southern belle’ — what are you looking for?”

“We’re targeting Democrats of Eastern European descent using a surname select and geopolitical filter.” “Oh,” I said, quickly doing the polarizing-voter math in my head. “How about ‘angry black man’?” “Yeah, that sounds good. What’s his voice sound like?”

So I cued up one particular actor’s CD on my computer and put the phone to the speaker. The track I played was one in which the actor was deliberately playing up a street gang character…. So we had the actor record a spot over the telephone saying, “I’m calling as a Democrat, asking you to vote for the Democratic nominee. We need your vote for Holt.” … The message was “I’m ghetto black calling you, racist Ukrainian guy, and scaring the crap out of you because you probably think that if you don’t vote for the Democrat I’m going to come to your house and take care of some business.” The calls were extremely highly targeted, household by household, no message ever left on an answering machine. We wanted the message heard only by people whose reaction would be “I’m not voting for Holt because he uses scary black men to call my house.”

We made calls to Democratic union households supporting Zimmer, taped by actors putting on thick Spanish accents, figuring union workers were the voters who felt most threatened by immigration. The objective was to get them to throw up their hands and stay home on Election Day…. Zimmer [barely] lost the election by 481 votes and the Green Party candidate picked up 2 percent in the polls.

He then blames the voters for acting on their racist views and not voting for the Democratic candidates. There is so much here to analyze. What do you think?