Dirty Tricks?

Pay no attention to the candidates you see stumping, on television and at rallies. The real campaign is there, on your kitchen counter (the telephone) and in your family room (the television) and in your car (the radio).

With just about 48 hours before the polls close, Jerry Kilgore and Tim Kaine are intensifying their efforts to reach voters by any means necessary.

Republicans are running a particularly interesting "robo-call" in Northern Virginia, using Tim Kaine's own voice from a radio ad he ran months ago.

The telephone call, which is apparently going to Democratic voters in the suburbs, is Kaine's voice, talking about supporting restrictions on abortion:

"I'm conservative on issues of personal responsibility. As a former Christian missionary, faith is central to my life. I oppose gay marriage. I support restrictions on abortion - no public funding and parental consent and I worked to pass a state law banning partial birth abortion."

The idea? Make Democratic voters who care about abortion rights feel uneasy about voting for Kaine. The ad says it's paid for by a PAC called Honest Leadership for Virginia, run by the Republican Governors Association.

Not to be outdone, Kaine is running a radio ad in Southwest Virginia with the opposite intentions -- make Christian voters down there uneasy with Kilgore's position on abortion.

In the ad, Kaine points out that Kilgore is running TV ads in Northern Virginia which make it seem like he supports abortions rights, something not too popular in southwest. The new Kaine radio ad says:

"In a recent debate in Northern Virginia, Kilgore refused to say whether he would outlaw abortion. Jerry Kilgore is running a TV ad in Northern Virginia only that says he supports Virginia law keeping abortion legal. Which is it Jerry?"

The Kaine ad is apparently referring to this Kilgore TV spot, which says that "As attorney general, Jerry Kilgore consistently upheld the law on sensitive issues like abortion."

Will voters care about either of these calls? The campaigns apparently think a few might, and with the polls showing the race extremely tight, that may be all either side needs.

By Michael Shear |  November 7, 2005; 2:29 PM ET  | Category:  Jerry Kilgore , Tim Kaine
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What about the mailer? I (a Democrat) received a mailer entitled the "2005 Official Democrat and Progressive Voter Guide: Governor of Virginia"... paid for by the Kilgore campaign and comparing Potts favorably to Kaine on the left's hot-button issues. (Apparently, Republicans don't bother with non-hot-button issues.)

What is the thinking here? I mean, this has GOT to be illegal... there's even a kicking donkey on it. The question is, does the Kilgore campaign just chalk up whatever fine it might be forced to pay as another expense that its donors need to bear to bring its candidate home? The "cost of doing business", so to speak? Ugh.

Posted by: Paul | November 7, 2005 02:33 PM

It's interesting to see both sides play off the others' weaknesses in their platform -- the "weakness" being an attempt to appeal to moderates.

Posted by: Omar | November 7, 2005 04:01 PM

um, slight difference here---the robo-calls paid for by kilgore supporters are using kaine's voice, making it seems as if it is in fact a robo-call from kaine supporters. this is quite deceptive if not illegal.

Posted by: bobo | November 7, 2005 04:24 PM

I got this call last night. What's the text of the radio ad that the recording was taken from?

Posted by: Elizabeth | November 7, 2005 04:34 PM

I agree with Bobo, the trick by the Kilgore Camp is incredibly under-handed. Pointing out in consistencies in an opponents platform is a far cry from attemping to trick your opponent's voters. Shame on Kilgore, may he go down in flames!

Posted by: bobo2 | November 7, 2005 04:36 PM

I'm very disturbed by the deceptive mailer and phone call from Kilgore's people, but even more disturbed that I've seen no coverage of these unethical tactics in the local press, including the Post. Both the mailer and the call are explicitly designed to hide that they're from Kilgore's campaign (the mailer is meant to look like it comes from Potts; the call is especially misleading, using Kaine's voice and waiting until the end to say that it's from the "Honest Leadership for Virginia" PAC -- you have to go online to look it up and find out that it's a Republican Governors Association PAC). Why hasn't there been a front-page article in the Post spotlighting this? This is just absolutely beyond the pale, and Kilgore yet again ought to be ashamed.

Posted by: MMS | November 7, 2005 05:01 PM

The Kilgore mailer (you need a magnifying glass to see the disclaimer) that looks likes a Potts ad has already been investigated and declared illegal by the Virginia Board of Elections. Kilgore campaign must be running scared--of Potts?

Posted by: Judy | November 7, 2005 05:05 PM

More about the fake Potts mailer from the Richmond Times-Dispatch (is this perhaps what Mark Warner wanted to speak with Potts about?):

"In Richmond, meanwhile, the state Board of Elections fined Kilgore's campaign $100 this morning for distributing a deceptive flier that violated the state's "Stand By Your Ad" law.

It also forwarded to the Richmond commonwealth's attorney's office a complaint that the flier appeared to represent a willful violation of the law, which could subject the Kilgore campaign to a $2,500 fine.

Jean R. Jensen, secretary of the elections board, issued a statement blasting Republican officials for using the board for political gain.

She noted that on Friday, when the board was fining the Democratic campaign of Timothy M. Kaine the same amount for a similar violation, the Kilgore flier was in the mail."

Posted by: Linda | November 7, 2005 05:16 PM

MMS - I agree totally, but these people do not seem to know the meaning of the word "shame".

Judy - that's great! But my question is: Is the punishment for using an illegal ad (probably a fine and public apology or something) even remotely large enough to deter Kilgore's campaign from the crime (which might put him in the Governor's Mansion)?

Posted by: Paul | November 7, 2005 05:17 PM

Newsflash, it's NOT illegal. Underhanded perhaps, but illegal. It's no different than the tv ads using excerpts of the candidates speaking. And for the record, Kaine is no better. He sent a mailing to registered Republicans with the National Republican Committee logo on it so readers would think they were receiving mail from NRC. The fact is, this race has been ugly on both sides and no one should be proud of their behavior.

Posted by: Merry | November 7, 2005 05:43 PM

When it says "I am Tim Kaine" and it really isn't - that seems illegal to me. It was put together by the PAC that is Kilgore's largest campaign contributor, a PAC which has taken money from Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff.

Typical Republican Sleaze tactics.

Posted by: Should be illegal | November 7, 2005 05:45 PM

Hey "Should Be Illegal" (nice name) see above post. The sleaze is bi-partisan and if you can't see that you're fooling yourself.

Posted by: Merry | November 7, 2005 05:48 PM

Merry - interesting, I hadn't heard the allegation about Kaine using the NRC logo. Can you link a reference? Thanks.

Posted by: Paul | November 7, 2005 05:55 PM

Sure thing Paul - here's the AP link (I copied it so hopefully it works!).

http://www.wvec.com/sharedcontent/APStories/stories/D8DM0B104.html

Posted by: Merry | November 7, 2005 06:02 PM

The Republican Governor's Association is making more DISHONEST robocalls tonight in heavily blue areas under the name "Honest Leadership for Virginia PAC".

The Republican Governors Association, under the [Dis]Honest Leadership name, is urging pro-choice voters to vote for Russ Potts, who the robocalls say is the only pro-choice candidate in the race.

The Republican Governors Association robocall lies by saying Potts is the only pro-choice candidate, and mentions that Kaine was not endorsed by NARAL-VA (which is true.)

Voters in Northern Virginia deserve to know that "Honest Leadership for Virginia PAC" is the Republican Governors Assocation.

The RGA should not be able to spend THREE MILLION on this race (which is what their total contributions are as of tonight) and not disclose their identity in their ads. It is completely DISHONEST to use the "Honest Leadership" front, when the PAC has no donors other than the RGA.

This should be front-page, above the fold tomorrow. It's the most blatant outright falsehood of this whole campaign.

Posted by: Dishonest Leadership from the RGA | November 7, 2005 07:18 PM

I try so hard to vote Republican, as I agree with them on fiscal issues, but I just can't get past the deception and divisiveness that the new generation of Republicans seem to prefer. It's petty, mean-spirited, and off-putting.

Posted by: Reason | November 7, 2005 07:27 PM

So, Reason, vote Potts. Everything the GOP was before the Southern Strategy.

Posted by: CP | November 7, 2005 08:44 PM

I'm a lifelong Republican, but I'm voting for Kaine. The underhanded, negative approach of Kilgore is truly disgusting. I really think we need to send a message to him that this stuff won't fly in Virginia.

Posted by: JPM | November 7, 2005 08:49 PM

I just received the robo call and the Potts/Kilgore mailing. Why aren't the Post and other papers getting the word out about what's going on?

Posted by: Bill Co | November 7, 2005 08:52 PM

I understand the Post's desire to appear objective and balanced, but what the &*#^&! There is a big difference between a few lousy fliers and Robocalling all of Northern Virginia.

My wife is voting for the first time tomorrow. When I came home today, she had already gotten the fake robocall, not knowing it was a scam. She was sure that kaine would outlaw abortion because of it. I basically had to walk her through the positions on both candidate's sites to get her straight...after which she decided to go for Kaine. The announcement at the end of the call of the "paid for by......" was so fast as to be completely undiscernable. Surely that is as illegal a type that is too small to read on flyers. Can you answer that, Michael?

Posted by: David | November 7, 2005 10:06 PM

Merry, thanks for the link, I checked it out. From what I could tell, it sounds like Kaine's mailing was labeled "For Republican Voters" which, frankly, it was. It also repeated actual, true criticisms of Kilgore by the Club for Growth (with friends like these...). The Kilgore mailer, on the other hand, is clearly labeled "Official Democrat and Progressive Voter Guide" which is clearly meant to confuse people into thinking it came FROM the party (as opposed to just going TO Deomcrats). And that's not even considering the robocalls, which I have somehow avoided hearing myself.

So sure, I understand your point, and it may seem to you that I'm splitting hairs. But to my eye, the Kilgore team has been utterly relentless in dragging this campaign into the ditch (remember the Hitler ads?) and aiming at hot-button emotional issues; all of Kaine's TV spots, by contrast, focus on education and transportation, except the ones where he's defending himself.

I realized today that I've never once heard Jerry Kilgore speak - I guess his campaign handlers figured that trying to exhibit actual leadership skills would probably be bad for his chances. Better just to show him with his family or sitting in a church pew, and have voiceovers about what a liberal Kaine is.

Posted by: Paul | November 8, 2005 08:26 AM

I received the seemingly pro-Potts mailing in question last night. Even though I had already read about it in the papers and knew what it was, I still did a double-take. Very underhanded, and to me it just confirms that Kilgore will say and do anything to get elected. I'm conservative, but the Virginia GOP seems to have run off the rails pandering to the fringe elements. I voted for Russ Potts this morning.

In response to Judy up above, who suggests that Kilgore is running scared and then adds, "Of Potts?"--actually, Kilgore is trying to get Kaine supporters to vote for Potts. He figures that if he can split the Kaine vote, he wins.

This is one race where it just won't be all that clear until after the election what role Potts plays. Back in 1992, when Ross Perot pulled out of the race, it was reasonable to figure that it would help Clinton--the people voting for Perot were likely dissatisfied with Bush and thus wouldn't likely vote for him. For Potts, it's unclear because he's staked out a real middle ground in between the other two.

He won't win, but he's right when he says that the only way to waste your vote is to vote for a candidate you do not believe should be elected.

Posted by: Rich | November 8, 2005 08:42 AM

Rich,

I'm not sure I understand the last sentence. Russ Potts said it himself: "Jerry Kilgore would be the worst Virginia Governor in my lifetime." What I don't get is that he had it entirely within his power - more than any other person in the Commonwealth, even Kilgore or Kaine themselves - to prevent this from happening. He could easily have said, "I'm no fan of Kaine and I will stay in the Senate and fight tooth and nail for my constituents' values... but we can't risk Kilgore destroying our budget, our schools, and our civil rights. So I encourage my supporters to vote to keep Kilgore out of office this year by backing Tim Kaine." But he didn't do that. So now, I'm not sure what the difference between voting for Potts and not voting is. Either action will have no impact on the outcome of the election whatsoever.

(Don't get me wrong - I respect Russ Potts deeply and think he's been the only candidate willing to take on some of the really tough issues in the campaign. It's just that I think Kilgore, combined with the far-right faction in the state house, will slam this state so far off course that we'll need decades to recover. He has dozens of ways to spend money - mostly in ways that benefit his campaign backers rather than ordinary Virginians - and no real proposals to raise it.)

Posted by: Paul | November 8, 2005 08:53 AM

The Free Lance-Star has a good piece on the sleaze in this Governor's race.

http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2005/112005/11082005/143998

I would have liked to see something like this in the Post pre-election. My favorite bit from the article:

``Board Secretary Jean Jensen complained that the board "is being used for political gain." She noted that Charles Spies, a lawyer for the Republican Governors Association [the money people behind the fake Kaine calls,] blasted the Kaine flier as "dishonest and deceptive" during Friday's board meeting.

"My anger is based on the fact that by amazing coincidence, during the time Mr. Spies was addressing the board regarding dishonesty and deception, the mailer before us [the fake Voter Guide] was being delivered to the mail boxes of Virginia voters," Jensen said.''

Posted by: CP | November 8, 2005 10:50 AM

Our two-party system is so broken. Clearly, Russ Potts is the only person in this campaign who has put forth logical plans and has avoided the mudslinging. So, why can't an independent win an election? It's not so much the money that both Repukelickins and Democraps have -- it's the laziness and stubborness of Americans.

We need to get off our lazy butts and read what the candidates have to say about their own plans, and then filter out anything they say about the other candidate. Then, make our own decision based on who would be the best leader -- not the best liar.

I know it's a pipe dream, but without the dream, the reality is too depressing. I voted for Potts because I think he is the best candidate.

Posted by: Duke | November 8, 2005 11:55 AM

I'm DISGUSTED that the Washington Post failed to inform Virginia voters about the LIES propogated by the Republican Governors Association in the "Pro-Choice Voter Alert" robocalls they have been doing in Northern Virginia.

The Washington Post covers all of the meaningless BS of this race -- like Bush complimenting Kilgore for growing up on a farm (when he himself grew up in tony Connecticut) -- but fails to do its duty in actually INFORMING the electorate with useful information and exposing the LIES of one side or another.

If Kilgore wins this thing, it is because the lies of the Republican Governors Association worked. Tens of thousands of pro-choice voters were misinformed of Kaine's true position under the guise of "Honest Leadership for Virginia PAC", which is nothing more than the Republican Governors Association under a different name.

As someone wrote above, junk mail flyers are one thing. But tens of thousands of robocalls with outright lies and deceptive disclosures can make a huge difference. The Post got dozens of calls about these total lies and did NOTHING today to inform the electorate. I'm disgusted.

Posted by: Maura | November 8, 2005 12:09 PM

I'm DISGUSTED that the Washington Post failed to inform Virginia voters about the LIES propogated by the Republican Governors Association in the "Pro-Choice Voter Alert" robocalls they have been doing in Northern Virginia.

The Washington Post covers all of the meaningless BS of this race -- like Bush complimenting Kilgore for growing up on a farm (when he himself grew up in tony Connecticut) -- but fails to do its duty in actually INFORMING the electorate with useful information and exposing the LIES of one side or another.

If Kilgore wins this thing, it is because the lies of the Republican Governors Association worked. Tens of thousands of pro-choice voters were misinformed of Kaine's true position under the guise of "Honest Leadership for Virginia PAC", which is nothing more than the Republican Governors Association under a different name.

As someone wrote above, junk mail flyers are one thing. But tens of thousands of robocalls with outright lies and deceptive disclosures can make a huge difference. The Post got dozens of calls about these total lies and did NOTHING today to inform the electorate. I'm disgusted.

Posted by: Maura | November 8, 2005 12:10 PM

I'm DISGUSTED that the Washington Post failed to inform Virginia voters about the LIES propogated by the Republican Governors Association in the "Pro-Choice Voter Alert" robocalls they have been doing in Northern Virginia.

The Washington Post covers all of the meaningless BS of this race -- like Bush complimenting Kilgore for growing up on a farm (when he himself grew up in tony Connecticut) -- but fails to do its duty in actually INFORMING the electorate with useful information and exposing the LIES of one side or another.

If Kilgore wins this thing, it is because the lies of the Republican Governors Association worked. Tens of thousands of pro-choice voters were misinformed of Kaine's true position under the guise of "Honest Leadership for Virginia PAC", which is nothing more than the Republican Governors Association under a different name.

As someone wrote above, junk mail flyers are one thing. But tens of thousands of robocalls with outright lies and deceptive disclosures can make a huge difference. The Post got dozens of calls about these total lies and did NOTHING today to inform the electorate. I'm disgusted.

Posted by: Maura | November 8, 2005 12:11 PM

I'm DISGUSTED that the Washington Post failed to inform Virginia voters about the LIES propogated by the Republican Governors Association in the "Pro-Choice Voter Alert" robocalls they have been doing in Northern Virginia.

The Washington Post covers all of the meaningless BS of this race -- like Bush complimenting Kilgore for growing up on a farm (when he himself grew up in tony Connecticut) -- but fails to do its duty in actually INFORMING the electorate with useful information and exposing the LIES of one side or another.

If Kilgore wins this thing, it is because the lies of the Republican Governors Association worked. Tens of thousands of pro-choice voters were misinformed of Kaine's true position under the guise of "Honest Leadership for Virginia PAC", which is nothing more than the Republican Governors Association under a different name.

As someone wrote above, junk mail flyers are one thing. But tens of thousands of robocalls with outright lies and deceptive disclosures can make a huge difference. The Post got dozens of calls about these total lies and did NOTHING today to inform the electorate. I'm disgusted.

Posted by: Maura | November 8, 2005 12:14 PM

I guess Maura must feel strongly about what she was saying :-)

Although, from what I hear, both the Democrats and the Republicans have been going overboard with the annoying calls. I don't get any of them because I won't answer the phone when it displays "OUT OF AREA 1-000-000-0000" on the caller ID :-)

Posted by: Rich | November 8, 2005 01:27 PM

Woops! I have no idea why my post appeared so many times...sorry!

(I am disgusted, though.) ;-)

Posted by: Maura | November 8, 2005 03:39 PM

From what I can tell, the blog software is occasionally returning an error on successful comments -- the only reason I didn't hit reload on a comment in another thread is I saw the same thing over there and checked. I'm guessing that's what happened to Maura.

As for the calls, it's not so much that they're annoying, it's that they're deceptive. I received two calls -- the first starting out "I'm Tim Kaine..." continuing with a message and ending with the notice that it was payed for by Honest Leadership for Virginia PAC. Sounds like I got a call from Tim Kaine, no? No. It was from an arm of the Republican Governors Assn. My wife got another call beginning something like "I am so-and-so with NARAL..." and all but explicitly Russ Potts. Paid for by the same group -- which is the top contributer to the Kilgore campaign. Those calls aren't merely annoying, they're deceptive. And I haven't headr of equivalent phone calls from the Democrats (though both the Republicans and the Democrats have dueling misleading flyers -- an Elephant bearing "For Republicans" flyer presenting itself as an anti-tax group criticising Kilgore from Kaine and a Donkey bearing "Official Democrat and Progressive Voter Guide" all but endorsing Potts from the Kilgore camp -- both campaigns have been fined by the elections board.)

In my book, the Republicans have been slimier, but the Democrats can't throw stones.

Posted by: CP | November 8, 2005 05:06 PM

I got the two robo calls in northern VA: one Sunday pretending to be from Tim Kaine, the other Monday pretending to be from Pro Choice America and NARAL: once I realized they were cut and paste jobs, I hung up in disgust that Kilgore's camp could stoop so low. Shame on these tactics, and using other people's names without their permission. Certainly the victims have a right to defend themselves with a rebuttal. How about a straight forward phone call telling recipients why X thinks he or she is the best candidate, what X's bright ideas are, and how X will help society and the environment? I am sure I could create a whopper of a speech by cutting and pasting Bush's interesting vocabulary into an ad! Thanks to all for an interesting discussion.

Posted by: Kat | November 8, 2005 06:02 PM

I didn't get the calls mentioned above but I did get one from Phil Griffen and recordings from Rudy Guliani, George Allen and someone else whose name escapes me. Does the do not call registry not apply to these annoyances?

Posted by: Bob | November 8, 2005 09:27 PM

The most important question remains. Does Kaine oppose abortion, gay marriage, public funding of abortion,etc? If the answer is yes, then THAT is the issue. Was Kaine misquoted, or does he truly hold those despicable views?

Posted by: Adam Nathanson | November 9, 2005 09:46 PM

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