What does it take to win the New Hampshire primary — dirty tricks or retail politics?
Stick to good old-fashioned politicking, says disgraced former GOP consultant Allen Raymond. "Retail politics and authenticity," he tells ABCNEWS.com. "Up in New Hampshire, they have great expectations of what you need to do as a candidate and you have to do it."
Raymond should know. After all, he's the one who ran an illegal scheme to make hundreds of calls to jam the phone lines of the state's Democrats on Election Day in 2002. The former consultant, who served three months in jail last year, tells his story and reveals secrets of the trade in his new book, "How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative."
Raymond blames the Republican Party for making him the fall guy and claims that his scheme was approved by a top state GOP official and the Republican National Committee's northeast regional director.
Raymond says that the RNC's former New England chairman, James Tobin, called him Oct. 18, 2002, asking, "If I had a couple of phone numbers that I wanted to shut down on Election Day, could you do that?"
Tobin and state official Chuck McGee were later convicted of charges related to the ploy, which helped John Sunnunu win a 19,000-vote victory to the Senate over Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.
But defense lawyers, who were paid more than $6 million by GOP committees, recently won a retrial for James Tobin, the former official with the RNC.
Raymond lashes out at his "old pals" at the RNC for spending money on Tobin's legal defense "while at the same time labeling me a liar, a rogue and a thief to any news outlet that would listen."
And he claims that the state GOP wrote him to demand its money back after paying him to carry out the scheme. "They were going to throw me under the bus, but first they wanted to check my pockets to see if there was any cash there," he writes.
Tobin and his lawyer did not return calls seeking comment.
A spokesman for the RNC said, "It would be hard to find two less credible individuals than Allen Raymond and [co-writer] Ian Spiegelman."
Raymond also describes his career in opposition research and political dirty tricks, outlining some tactics he observed or participated in.
Here's a handy check list of ways to rig an election, based on Raymond's account:
For now, Raymond is unemployed and looking for a new career, since his life in politics is finished.
"No one would hire and if they wanted to hire me, why would I want to work for them," he tells ABCNEWS.com. "It's like that old Groucho Marx line about not joining a club that would have me as a member."
But he can't help following the campaign and takes mental notes on the dirty tricks that he's seen so far. "The most blatant dirty trick is when Republicans go on to TV to talk about 'Barack Hussein Obama.'" Raymond was struck by the calls to the pastors in Iowa that threatened them with IRS subpoenas. "That's some rough stuff."
Raymond is also following New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte's investigation of the anti-Mormon calls that targeted Mitt Romney and his faith in November. Avotte described the role of two firms in the ploy: Western Wats, of Orem, Utah, which made the calls, and Moore-Information Inc., of Portland, Ore., which hired Western Wats.
"That was not nickel-and-dime stuff," says Raymond, explaining that the cost of such an operation narrows the field of suspects. "It couldn't have come from Huckabee, McCain or Thompson — they don't have enough money to pay for that kind of operation."
"All campaigns have an element of dirty tricks," he says. "Guys who practice this trade are hired to engineer a victory. This is not about morality — this is about winning."
So far, he's most impressed with Barack Obama's campaign and not for the reasons you'd think. "What is refreshing about him is that he is bringing a level of energy, to rise above the partisanship we've seen," he says. "I don't know what's more amazing about last night, his win or his speech. I never got that in my life in politics — working for someone who inspires you."
Not that it matters. "I can't even vote and no one's asked me for my support."