Clinton vs. Obama: The robocall edition

With one day to go before New Hampshire's primary, the Clinton campaign has accused Obama's camp of violating political communication laws.

NASHUA, N.H.--With less than a day before New Hampshire's primary election, it's starting to get ugly here.

And no, we're not just talking about the warmer temperatures turning pristine white snow to gray slush. On Sunday evening, Hillary Clinton's campaign accused Barack Obama's operatives of violating New Hampshire law by dispatching prerecorded "robocalls" to folks on the federal "do not call" list.

Clinton's camp says the messages are also illegal because they fail to disclose they're associated with the Obama campaign--instead, implying they're sponsored by the Planned Parenthood of Northern New England--until 38 seconds into the message. Under state law, such identifications must occur within 30 seconds.

"I'm really disappointed, and I'm just very, very sad to see that these tactics are being adopted by another campaign here in this Democratic primary," Cathy Sullivan, the Clinton campaign's New Hampshire coordinator, said in a conference call with reporters.

Clinton representatives said they were tipped off to the potential infraction by two supporters who called the campaign and claimed they had received the calls despite being on the do-not-call list.

We received no immediate response from the Obama camp, but according to other news outlets, the campaign is dismissing the charges, calling them a sign of desperation on the part of Clinton, who is trailing the Illinois senator here in most recent polls.

"Our disclaimer absolutely complies with the federal law and our vendor has assured us that he scrubbed the list for people on the do-not-call registry," Ned Helms, Obama's New Hampshire campaign co-chairman, said in an e-mail published by the Associated Press. "If this call went to someone who should not have received it, we will make sure the vendor takes every step to make sure this doesn't happen again," Helms said, in an e-mail from the Obama campaign.

The campaign also claims New Hampshire's do-not-call law does not apply to "presidential preference primaries."

The use of the robocalls at all illustrates that despite the amount of attention that media has been giving to the Internet's prominence in this year's primary, more traditional forms of getting out the vote are still out in full force. Across New Hampshire on Monday, most of the major candidates are traveling to local eateries, schools, and cultural centers to take a last stab at swaying undecided voters to their sides.

The allegations arrive as a new USA Today-Gallup poll found Obama to be in the lead among candidates in Tuesday's contest, with 39 percent of the support, compared with Clinton's 29 percent. That contrasts with a poll released just before Saturday night's debates , in which Obama and Clinton were in a dead heat, with each candidate racking up 33 percent of local voters' backing.

Update at 11:08 a.m. PST: The same USA Today-Gallup poll from Monday, by the way, found Sen. John McCain leading former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by 4 percentage points in the Republican race.

 

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