Pro-McCain robo-calls: Americans in obnoxious contact

Robo-calling gone amuck.

This week, there’s a robo-call targeting residents of Colorado (as well as other swing states) from an organization called Americans in Contact. And like most robo-calls in this hotly contested election cycle, they’re insulting, annoying and misleading. You know, exactly the sort of tactics we’d want to use in electing our leadership.

Americans in Contact is a Virginia-based political action committee of non-specific origin that claims on its website "to identify social and fiscal conservatives throughout America and engage them at the Grassroots level in the political process of elections and legislation at all levels of Government." Which might be fine if that’s all they were doing.

But Americans in Contact is clearly not just "identifying social and fiscal conservatives." Rather, they’re trying to create pro-John McCain conservatives by any means necessary, including the time-worn and shabby technique of push-polling.

Yes, it's the same tactic that McCain himself was the victim of in 2000, when southern voters were asked if their opinion about McCain would change if they knew he’d fathered a black baby out of wedlock. The same strategy that McCain’s campaign called “repugnant.” Even McCain himself -- in a press conference here in Colorado last November -- called push-polling "disgraceful" and "outrageous" and called for an investigation into their legality.

But here they are, being used for the McCain campaign in a late push to change minds not by making legitimate points, but by slanted claims and outright prevarication. Specifically, the nasally and vaguely snotty male voice in the AiC Colorado push-poll asks two questions. The first is the usual stuff about terrorist ties and Bill Ayers and the like. And if that stretch of the truth doesn’t work its magic on you, then they try this next one: "Does the fact that Barack Obama plans to raise taxes on the average American family by over $2200 make you more likely to vote for John McCain?"

Americans in Contact isn’t really looking for an answer for this, though if you say "yes" to this or the first question, you’re routed directly to a way to donate money to the GOP cause. And each question isn’t really a question, of course, since that’s the way push-polls work: by providing you bad information and then slimily asking if that new data changes your perspective. The only answer they’re looking to get is in terms of spreading misinformation. And, naturally, the money.

John McCain and his campaign had it right last year. It’s repugnant, disgraceful and outrageous. -- Teague Bohlen

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts