Dirty Tricks Ratchet Up as Caucus Gets Closer

Push polls and Internet disseminate negative information about candidates.

ByABC News via logo
November 19, 2007, 9:32 AM

Nov. 19, 2007 — -- With only 45 days until the first votes are cast in the Iowa caucus, every candidate and campaign is looking for an edge, and clearly some folks are finding those edges in dirty tricks nasty information, sometimes false, often spread anonymously.

It's a murky world and often tough to tell what's true, what's false and where any of it is coming from.

This weekend, conservative columnist Robert Novak reported that agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., claimed her campaign has scandalous information about Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., but they have decided not to use it.

The Obama campaign quickly took the item and used it to tar Clinton as part of the proverbial problem.

"If the purpose of this shameless item was to daunt or discourage me or supporters of our campaign from challenging and changing the politics of Washington, it will fail," an Obama campaign statement said.

The Clinton campaign rejected the accuracy of the claims in Novak's story and added, "Voters should be concerned about the readiness of any Democrat inexperienced enough to fall for this."

Obama attacked Clinton for using old-school attack politics, nonetheless.

"I really value my reputation and my character and my family," Obama said Sunday in Marion, Iowa. "In the era of the blogosphere, we have seen what happened with John McCain in 2000, what happened with John Kerry in 2004. If you don't get on this stuff quickly, then it starts drifting around, and that is not something I am going to accept."

Obama said he would "take them [the Clinton campaign] at their word when they said that they weren't responsible for it," but "we are letting Democratic voters know, we are letting Republican operatives know, and we're letting other people know that we will respond swiftly and forcefully when there are untruths being floated out there."

Dirty tricks have been a part of American politics as far back as the mudslinging in the 1800 race between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.