Robocall war breaks out in US presidential poll

October 24th, 2008 - 10:56 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Oct 24 (IANS) With the US presidential election just 11 days away, a Robocall war has broken out in battleground states with recorded messages from both camps attacking their opponents flooding phone lines.Some residents in battleground states are receiving more than a dozen daily robocalls from the campaigns of both trailing Republican nominee John McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama, leading in most national opinion polls.

The McCain campaign launched 12 robocalls in the past six weeks, CNN said citing Shaun Dakin, founder of the National Political Do Not Contact Registry. The Obama campaign has launched at least four robocall campaigns in the past month, according to the registry’s Web site.

In a new robocall from the McCain campaign, former New York mayor and Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani tries to paint Obama as soft on crime, saying the Democrat opposes “mandatory prison sentences for sex offenders, drug dealers and murderers.”

“With priorities like these, we just can’t trust the inexperience and judgment of Barack Obama and his liberal allies,” Giuliani says.

The Obama campaign did not have an immediate comment, but according to its Web site, the Illinois senator does support “reforming mandatory minimum prison sentences.”

Obama’s campaign released its own robocall in Wisconsin in response to what it called McCain’s “sleazy phone calls.” The call features Jeri Watermolen, a former McCain backer who claims to have turned to support Obama because of the McCain campaign’s calls.

“I live in Green Bay, and, like you, I’ve been getting sleazy phone calls and mail from John McCain and his supporters viciously - and falsely - attacking Barack Obama. I used to support John McCain because he honourably served our country, but this year he’s running a dishonourable campaign,” Watermolen says in the call.

Giuliani’s robocall comes a week after the Republican National Committee and the McCain campaign sent out a robocall to swing-state voters highlighting the Democratic presidential candidate’s connection to 1960’s radical William Ayers.

The calls are part of a $70 million last Republican push to get out the vote for McCain, using calls, mailings and door-knocking in battleground states.

Obama’s vice presidential running mate Joe Biden has challenged McCain to “stop those ads.”

“If John McCain is serious when he said this morning, ‘this election is about the economy,’ then I say, John, take down your robocalls. Stop what you’re doing, John. Debate the economy, not lies about Barack’s character,” he said.

But Dakin says voters can expect the calls to keep pouring in during the final days of campaigning.

“It’s essentially the spam of this elections cycle. They’ve become so cheap, so ubiquitous, at every level of every race, so particularly if you live in a battleground state, our members are reporting getting 10 to 15 calls a day. That’s only going to increase,” he said.

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