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Continued: Republicans flood Minnesota with anti-Obama phone calls

  • Article by: MARK BRUNSWICK , Star Tribune
  • Last update: October 16, 2008 - 9:59 PM

Tim Streeter came home from work on Thursday and did what he usually does -- check the voice mails on his phone at his Edina home.

A woman's voice on the line told him Democratic nominee Barack Obama associated with "domestic terrorist" William Ayers, who "killed Americans." She warned about Obama's "extreme leftist agenda" and hung up after leaving the Washington number for the Republican National Committee.

"It's very disturbing that the campaign has gotten to the point where the Republicans have sunk this low to suggest Obama consorts with murderers," said Streeter, who identified himself as an Obama supporter.

Like thousands of others on Thursday, Streeter had been robo-called, Minnesota-style.

Ordinarily, a robo-call is one in which a potential voter is called at home by an automatic dialer and is spoken to by a recorded voice.

Phone calls of that kind, 32 seconds long, spread throughout the country following Republican nominee John McCain's comments during a debate Wednesday about Ayers, a former Weather Underground member, and his relationship with Obama.

In Minnesota, however, according to McCain campaign officials, calls like the one Streeter received were made with actual people on the other line.

It is against a 1987 Minnesota law to use robo-calling unless it is preceded by a live operator. Without revealing how many calls were made or how long they will last, McCain campaign officials said they complied with state law, even with actual costs of a live call ranging from 20 to 30 cents apiece, about 10 times the cost of a recorded call.

"We made the calls, and they were all live," said McCain regional political director Ben Golnik.

'It's that time of year'

Under the headline, "Wave Of McCain Robocalls Reported, Some May Violate State Law," the left-leaning online website the Huffington Post said several readers from Minnesota reported receiving the calls and questioned whether they were illegal.

At an Obama campaign office in northeast Minneapolis, a volunteer working the phones said she received about a half-dozen calls complaining about receiving the message, but all said there was a person on the other end of the line.

As for Streeter, he found the call disturbing, but it quickly became part of the clutter of the political season.

"It's that time of year, you expect calls from supporters and pollsters," Streeter said. "I just would like the candidates and their representatives to represent them honestly."

Mark Brunswick • 651-222-1636

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