You knew these push polls were going to surface again. And indeed they have in South Carolina. They are being made in support of Mike Huckabee but the Huckabee campaign is none too happy about it. Read below from The Associated Press:
Automated phone polls disparaging rivals of Republican White House hopeful Mike Huckabee started across this early voting state Tuesday evening and the head of the group making them said that more than 1 million will be made in a three-day span.
The calls were expected. In December, Colorado-based Common Sense Issues promised to make 1 million phone calls in South Carolina supporting Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor who repeatedly has distanced himself from the group.
Common Sense executive director Patrick Davis said Tuesday night that the calls started about 5 p.m. from a call center in Virginia and should be completed sometime Thursday.
The Republican primary here is Saturday.
Among the people receiving the push polling calls was a county co-chairman of former Sen. Fred Thompson's campaign.
Jason Goings, the Aiken County co-chairman for Thompson, said the call he received started by asking him if he was a Republican who planned to vote in Saturday's primary and then asked whom he supported. After he hit the button for Thompson, a voice highlighted Huckabee's position against abortion and said Thompson worked as a lawyer for a lobbying firm that protected abortion rights.
The call also attacked Thompson, a former Tennessee senator and actor, on same-sex marriage, illegal immigration and taxes.
South Carolina law prohibits automated calls for political purposes with a penalty of 30 days in jail and a $200 fine for each violation, but such calls are commonplace.
Common Sense Issues has defended the calls as free speech and said they are protected under federal law.
The Huckabee campaign released these statements this afternoon from Huckabee and Campaign Manager Chip Saltsman:
Huckabee: "As I've said before, our campaign has nothing to do with push polling and I wish they would stop. We don't want this kind of campaigning because it violates the spirit of our campaign. I want to become President because I am the best candidate, not because I attacked the other candidate,"
Saltsman: "Anyone who has the slightest understanding of the race ahead and the mindset of voters would know this sort of activity is extremely counterproductive. It takes the campaign off message at a time when Governor Huckabee is resonating with voters here in South Carolina. We have enthusiastic, overflow crowds at each of our events. It loses votes rather than gains them. It's an underhanded way of doing business that is not welcomed by the campaign and it flies in the face of what Governor Huckabee stands for: integrity and clean politics. On behalf of Governor Huckabee and his campaign, I ask once again that these calls be stopped immediately."