Clinton, Obama campaigns cry election tampering

In Ohio and Texas, both camps accuse the other of nefarious shenanigans.

By Katharine Mieszkowski
Published March 5, 2008 3:55AM (EST)

With Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama battling it out for every delegate in Ohio and Texas, each campaign accused the other of resorting to dirty tricks to win.

Obama's Ohio state director, Paul Tewes, said in a statement that the Clinton campaign "may want to depress turnout." He charged that the campaign had received reports from around the state that some Republicans and independents who chose to vote in the Democratic primary hadn't been able to get the proper ballots, and that voter I.D. requirements had been misstated at some voting locations.

Meanwhile, Clinton's Ohio state director, Robby Mook, said that there were "troubling reports of irregularities and inappropriate behavior by Sen. Obama's campaign across the state." Mook cited an aggressive poll watcher in Akron, as well as reports of Obama campaign buttons being worn in polling places in Cincinnati. Some Barack Obama supporters trying to serve as poll monitors in Ohio were also turned away, since election officials maintained that they were not properly credentialed to do so, a charge the Obama camp disputed, according to the Washington Post.

Down in Texas, each camp accused the other of not following the caucus rules. Obama's state director, Adrian Saenz, bashed Clinton's campaign in a statement: "We have reported several specific incidents of Clinton campaign supporters seeking to circumvent the rules and illegally boost their caucus performance by soliciting signatures on precinct convention sign-in sheets -- even before the caucuses have started."

And what was the Clinton camp's charge against Obama's in Texas? The very same thing! "Unfortunately, we have received numerous reports that the Obama campaign is violating Texas Democratic Party rules by circulating precinct convention sign in sheets in advance and are having them filled in now. These underhanded tactics undermine the process that all parties agreed to," said Clinton Texas state director Ace Smith, in a statement.

The Clinton campaign also charged that the Obama camp took precinct convention packets from polling places before the official start time of the caucuses in at least 17 precincts from Houston to El Paso. It also accused Obama supporters of literally locking Clinton supporters who were trying to caucus out of buildings in at least 12 precincts from Dallas to Denton.

All this he said/she said hit a fever pitch in an election night conference call with reporters that Clinton's camp held on Tuesday. Bob Bauer, the top lawyer from the Obama camp, infiltrated the call to dispute the Clinton camp's version of events.

On the call, Bauer called on Clinton's aides to "stop attacking the caucus process." Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson shot back: "This is not about the process, Bob; it's about the way this particular set of caucuses are going as we speak." To listen to the exchange yourself, click here.

Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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