Democrat Richard Gephardt’s manager accused Howard Dean’s presidential campaign on Thursday of planning to slip non-Iowans into the Jan. 19 caucuses to pose as state residents and support Dean.
Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi denied the allegation and told Gephardt manager Steve Murphy “sleazy tactics like yours are exactly the reason that people have stopped participating in the political process.”
In a letter to Trippi and later in a conference call with reporters, Murphy said a Dean field organizer in Iowa told a Gephardt staff member some of the expected 3,500 out-of-state Dean supporters coming to Iowa to help turn out the caucus vote would try to participate.
So is it true? Who knows. We’re this close to the caucus, and it’s a must-win for Gephardt. So you can read it three ways:
1. Yes, it’s true (but if so, then almost certainly without Dean’s knowlege).
2. Gephardt is pulling a last-minute dirty trick.
3. Gephardt fears it might true, but is willing to risk going with it because he really really really does need to win in Iowa.
Whichever option you choose, it doesn’t make either candidate look good. So it’s looking more and more likely that Wes Clark will emerge in New Hamphire (or perhaps as “late” as South Carolina) as the anti-Dean candidate.
Couple weeks ago I wrote, “Not only is this primary race not over, it’s hardly even begun.”
Yep. And here’s where it gets interesting.