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A Call For Huckabee, But Not What the Candidate Wants to Hear


Mike Huckabee and his wife Janet in Des Moines preparing for a weekend radio show. (Getty).

In the quest to best organize for the Iowa caucus, now just over four weeks away, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee got a little help over the weekend from a non-profit called Common Sense Issues Inc. It's help the GOP candidate says he doesn't want, because it includes computerized calls that spread negative information about his opponents, a technique Huckabee said "violates the spirit" of his campaign.

The effort, launched by Common Sense Issues Inc. this weekend, is a major phone and Internet operation designed to identify potential Huckabee supporters and urge them to register as "precinct captains" for the Iowa caucuses. The group's e-mail pitch told supporters who signed up that its goal is to "identify existing supporters of Governor Huckabee through telephone surveys and broadcast advertising in order to educate them on the importance of the caucuses and show them how to win their respective caucuses for Governor Huckabee."

The computerized calls raised some eyebrows in Iowa, as the non-profit seemed to be targeting supporters of other candidates. Some griped that the calls included negative information about other candidates, such as stating that Rudy Giuliani supported abortion rights. Others said the calls included a long list of positive information designed to attract them to Huckabee. "It all kept coming back to 'would you like to know more about Huckabee,'" said Phil Corr, a congregational pastor in Charles City, Iowa who personally supports Mitt Romney and got one of the calls.

Huckabee immediately distanced himself from the effort. "We don't want this kind of campaigning because it violates the spirit of our campaign," the former Arkansas governor said.

Common Sense Issues was created earlier this year, according to IRS records, by Harold "Zeke" Swift, who had used an earlier group called Common Sense Ohio to conduct similar activities in the 2006 U.S. Senate election. Swift recently was listed as a co-host for a fundraiser for Huckabee late last month in Ohio.

Patrick Davis, the executive director for Common Sense Issues, described the calls as "personalized educational artificial intelligence calls" and that they are being made across the country, not just in Iowa. "Primarily these calls are to deliver a positive message about the issues that are important to us," Davis said.

The precinct captain organization it builds for Huckabee, he said, will be kept entirely separate from his presidential campaign, and the group also is involving itself in a Colorado Senate race. He said the group has decided to file reports with the FEC that identifies its election activities as regulated independent expenditures, the first listing about $40,000 in expenses.

--John Solomon

By Washington Post editors  |  December 3, 2007; 7:52 PM ET
 
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Comments

Huckabee and Common Sense should be really ashamed of themselves. I took this poll and it was quite possibly the most bias, most poorly done public opinion poll to which I have ever been exposed. It wouldn't even be so bad if they didn't try to frame it as a legit poll. ugh. I only completed it out of pure curiosity.


Posted by: mileahkaykromer | January 15, 2008 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Today I did receive one of these automated polls from Common Sense Issues at my NH residence. The interesting thing was, when asking which Republican I would vote for, --- RON PAUL was the only candidate NOT on the list. I went on the website for Common Sense to retrieve their phone number so that I could call and tell them who they left out and what I thought about it, alas, no contact information. Very strange, don't you think --- who has a website without contact information . . .

I have heard about his exclusion in polls, but this was the first time I have actually received one.

Posted by: harveyshouse | December 18, 2007 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I am a Democrat but I lied to the robo-caller (which may not have been even recording my "Yes" or "No" answers after the point where I said Yes, I would vote in the primary and No, I would not vote for Huckabee.) It is definitely a blatantly pro-Huckabee push poll. It even claimed that he was a tax cutter, even though I personally favor putting government back on a pay as you go basis, which unfortunately means financing government by taxation rather than borrowing.

The caller ID claimed the call came from an organization called "PS 07" located in the 703 area code... although the contact number given if you listened through the whole call was in the 719 (Colorado Springs) area code.

The only reason I lied and saids I was a Republican was to skew the pole by saying I was voting for someone ridiculous like Tom Tancredo or Duncan Hunter... but they only asked about Giuliani, Thompson, Romney & Huckabee... they didn't even mention Ron Paul!

It is possible Thompson's people made the calls, since my phone number is in his database under a fake name. But it is more likely to be Huckabee.

Posted by: Timothy.Horrigan | December 16, 2007 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Huckabee is a swell guy and all, but.....
have we not had enough of these 'compasionate conservatives' in office who are so compasionate that they want to take your money and give it away, and want to take your sons and send them to die for nothing in a far away desert??

Come on folks, wake up, Huckabee is just another big-government type who will enlarge the welfare/warfare state.

He's just as scarey as Bush.

Posted by: tomdawg | December 5, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Huckabee is a swell guy and all, but.....
have we not had enough of these 'compasionate conservatives' in office who are so compasionate that they want to take your money and give it away, and want to take your sons and send them to die for nothing in a far away desert??

Come on folks, wake up, Huckabee is just another big-government type who will enlarge the welfare/warfare state.

He's just as scarey as Bush.

Posted by: tomdawg | December 5, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

Huckabee is a swell guy and all, but.....
have we not had enough of these 'compasionate conservatives' in office who are so compasionate that they want to take your money and give it away, and want to take your sons and send them to die for nothing in a far away desert??

Come on folks, wake up, Huckabee is just another big-government type who will enlarge the welfare/warfare state.

He's just as scarey as Bush.

Posted by: tomdawg | December 5, 2007 8:08 PM | Report abuse

So glad to know you "get out much." Golly gee, by yer reckoning, "I been" a lot of places, too. Maybe even to some of the places where youse "educated" types frequent, tho I dare say they're not Starbucks-worthy. Nevertheless, I'm sure the folks at Starbucks are jumping head over heels with glee to have earned yer endorsement, what with you being the educated guy that you are. BTW, are you saving the 50th state to visit once they get some "people with education" to live there?

Posted by: retroag70 | December 5, 2007 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Gee people, I was just making a joke. Of course they have Starbucks in Iowa, they have them everywhere people with education live in this country. That website of the guy who visits every starbucks will show you that, which BTW is quite amusing. There is a strong correlation between locations of Starbucks and counties that vote Democratic, but conservatives do drink it also. I do get out much, I been to 49 states, including all of eastern Iowa, although not Des Monies.

I have no problem with Starbucks per se, I see it as a ubitiquous, overpriced, ok place, with nice bathrooms and mostly fine employees.

Posted by: merganser | December 4, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

OH LOL! You want Espresso, I'll give you Espresso!
Gulp a couple Caffiene Pills!
NOW, THAT's Espresso! Then sip a cheap cup of Coffee or Tea!

Back to the Point-The Conservatives need to WISE UP!

THEY are allowing the MSM to divide them along Religious lines, which is a pretty hard line to erase when drawn(IRAQ!).

Mitt Romney has an EXELLENT Background and is a Pillar of decent Morals!

The Huckster is also a viable Statesman, who at this point I believe Much better for the Job than a Senator named Thompson.

I would like to affectionately consider Huck, as perfect for the Title of "Number 2"!

Throw "Ruthie" under the Bus, get the other Exec.s ON, and roll over some Congressional Clowns Next!

Cue the Chior!


HALELUJAH!

HALELUJAH!!!!!!

Posted by: rat-the | December 4, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

i worked at a SMALLER coffee shop corporation and my room mate worked at STARBUX. she got a free package of coffee or tea every other week. i didn't. she got health benefits. i didn't. she got paid more than minimum wage. i didn't. we didn't sell anything fair trade. i guess i go to coffee shops based on if i like their coffee or not. it all costs pretty much the same. starbux doesn't charge extra for soy, either.
OH ps- we all should have seen this huckabee thing coming from a mile away considering the candidates the republicans are offering. i read short bios of all the candidates like about three months ago and thought "hmmm this huckabee guy... something isn't clicking..."

Posted by: sparkmika | December 4, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I think the real problem merg has with the drink in huckabee's hand is that, coming from such a place as starbucks, it might be a latte. Which is french. Or Italian. European, alright? It's European. And you know what Europeans stand for? Communism. Unless it's fascism. I forget.

Problem is those gingerbread latte's... can't... resist... despite... moral... outrage.

True, Starbucks makes a show of being liberal with its "fair trade coffee" and such nonsense. Surely some of the people who work at starbucks are great people. And some of those great people are trying to unionize because starbucks avoids employing people full time for fear it might require giving people (gasp) benefits.

Posted by: mlk.keegan | December 4, 2007 5:38 AM | Report abuse

They ought to call it "Four" Bucks.

Posted by: goldenequity | December 3, 2007 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Some really great people work at Starbucks. You have to think of the little guy too.

Note: merganser must not get out much. I live in Des Moines are there are three Starbucks within a 5 mile radius of my home.

Posted by: myemail100 | December 3, 2007 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I think Mike has a good chance to win in Iowa, and the NH primary is only a few days after where Mitt must win to remain viable. I have thought for a couple of weeks now that should Mike win in Iowa, then he and McCain would strike sone kind of deal with McCain dropping out and supporting Mike. I know this seems far fetched now, but think of how strong he would be in the south with McCain backing him. With a plan such as this, I think he would be a good bet to win the Repub nomination.

Posted by: lylepink | December 3, 2007 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Even in Iowa, Starbucks seem to be proliferating at an even faster rate than the Huckster's meteoric rise in the polls.

http://www.starbuckseverywhere.net/Iowa.htm

Posted by: pjkiger1 | December 3, 2007 9:24 PM | Report abuse

I got one of these calls last night. It sounds like an automated telephone poll to start off with. But what really ticked me off is when it asked which Republican Candidate I would likely vote for it named them all EXCEPT Ron Paul. It was such a blatant and outrageous stunt. They are getting desparate I tell you! Ron Paul is winning almost all the straw polls, the debate polls, the internet chatter as measured by a Wall Street survey firm and of course in terms of online fund raising. These stunts by Huckabee supporters just shows how desparate they are.

Posted by: DrBrianHorsfield | December 3, 2007 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Starbucks is a liberal drink? I thought it was a faceless corporation that eats up local businesses. That explains the sorry state of the Democrat Party I guess. Go Clinton, right?

Posted by: coll0229 | December 3, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

They have Starbucks in Iowa? Plus, why is Huckabee drinking a liberal's beverage, quite a betrayal of conservative values.

Posted by: merganser | December 3, 2007 8:38 PM | Report abuse

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