The latest politician to fall victim to an overzealous campaign member is one of the Kentucky Senate hopefuls, Republican Rand Paul. The Los Angeles Times describes the incredible events that took place earlier this week, when Lauren Valle of MoveOn.org tried to get close enough to Paul to have her picture taken with him. Two of Paul’s volunteers apprehended her, one throwing her to the ground and the other placing his foot on her head and then stomping her. Caught on video, Tim Profitt has confessed. Paul and his campaign have denounced the brutality and disowned Profitt.
There have been tenacious volunteers in other campaigns. Actions done in the heat of the moment can result in political backlash that harms the campaign.
Hillary Clinton, hopeful of Democratic nod for Presidential candidate 2008
First Read from NBC News reported Dec. 5, 2007, that an Iowa county chair volunteering for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign sent an e-mail that Obama was a Muslim. The Clinton campaign quickly announced their displeasure regarding the action. Patti Solis Doyle, Clinton’s campaign manager, affirmed such actions were not authorized.
Although the volunteer was asked to leave the campaign, the harm was done. I believe it gave an unfavorable light to Mrs. Clinton, who failed to get the blessings of the National Democratic Central Committee for a run at president in the general election.
Cleve Tidwell, Republican U.S. Senate candidate, Colorado
The Denver Post reported in June 2009 that Rocky Mountain Right, a blog, was accusing Cleve Tidwell of posting anonymous glowing comments regarding his experience and ability. Tidwell denied any knowledge of the activity, indicating he did not have anything to do with blogs, period. Turning to his campaign staff, one volunteer with access to his e-mail addresses confessed to the action. Although not identified, the volunteer quit.
Tidwell attempted to downplay the event by explaining the volunteer was trying to help the campaign, had access to the e-mail, and youth and enthusiasm created a bad decision. Unfortunately, Tidwell’s campaign criticized the fairness of the blog, and whether it was impartial or not. The bid for election continues, and the turmoil between Tidwell’s camp and the Rocky Mountain Right also continues.
Bush-Cheney reelection campaign 2004
The Washington Post carried a story July 1, 2004, regarding the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign’s detailed plan of action to religious volunteers across the country. Basically, the idea was to get the volunteers to seek direct involvement in the campaign by their churches.
Terry Holt, Bush-Cheney campaign spokesperson, indicated the guidelines were designed to make it easy for President Bush’s religious supporters to get involved. John Kerry’s supporters replied it was over the line, putting churches in danger of losing their tax exemptions. Frank Keith, an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) spokesperson, explained that a letter was sent June 10 to both national committees detailing permissible activities of tax-exempt charitable groups in a political campaign.
The letter, instigated by articles from The Post and other news media, was in response to Bush-Cheney campaign goals with religious organizations. A toned -down campaign strategy resulted, stopping many innocent church groups from being dragged into a fierce campaign battle between Republicans and Democrats.
Ethics and politics may seem to be strange bedfellows, but the lesson needs to be learned by all concerned. The media, the opposing side, and the neutral sideline will bring extreme behavior to the attention of the people. A disgusted public can create more havoc than a stomping, undisciplined, zealous group of volunteers and campaign managers.
Andrew Malcolm, Rand Paul coordinator Tim Profitt admits to stepping on woman from MoveOn.org before Kentucky debate
Mark Murray, Hillary volunteer sends anti-Obama email
Lynn Bartels, Tidwell Senate campaign weaves tangled Web posts
Alan Cooperman, Churchgoers Get Direction from Bush Campaign