The DNC’s 2010 midterm election strategy is… race-baiting? 

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Democrats are accusing the GOP of trying to suppress minority voters:

Increasingly concerned about a demoralized base, Democratic Party leaders are accusing opponents of trying to delegitimize President Barack Obama and of preparing to suppress the votes of minority and poor voters in the November election.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine is expected to lay out in a speech Wednesday the party’s latest plan to energize its base and appeal to such distinct groups as African-Americans, Latinos and younger voters, among others.

The WSJ report is based on the prepared remarks of a speech DNC head Tim Kaine was to give that read:

“We know the Republican Party still seeks to suppress the vote and initiate arbitrary challenges, particularly challenging minority and low-income voters.”

Of course, when it came time to give the speech, Kaine apparently did not read that line. If Kaine made the choice not to sanction this kind of ugly race-baiting, good for him. But the fact that this remark was even considered at all suggests that this ugly accusation is part of a concerted strategy to smear Republicans. The DNC declined to comment on the remark, when Politico’s Ben Smith asked about it. Smith did, however, get an earful from RNC spokesman Doug Heye:

“Gov. Tim Kaine owes an explanation. Why would he make outrageous — and false — accusations about voter suppression and intimidating minority and low-income voters in his prepared text that was previewed by the Wall Street Journal but then excise them from his speech?” he said. “Is it because he knows them to be false or is he walking back his remarks in an effort to avoid embarrassing this president and attorney general, who turned a blind eye to voter intimidation by Black Panthers at the polls in Philadelphia in 2008? The American people deserve some clarity, and a straight answer from Gov. Kaine.”

And considering that the President recently made an explicitly racial appeal for votes, it’s hard not to see Kaine’s telling omission as part of larger strategy.

This is also not the first time Democrats have tipped their hand to engaging in this kind of shameless race-baiting, as a matter of electoral strategy. In 2004, the DNC produced an election day manual for the Kerry-Edwards campaign. I’ve included the document below, but see the text on page three:

2. If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a “pre-emptive strike” (particularly well-suited to states in which there techniques have been tried in the past).

Issue a press release

i. Reviewing Republican tactic used in the past in your area or state
ii. Quoting party/minority/civil rights leadership as denouncing tactics that discourage people from voting

–Prime minority leadership to discuss the issue in the media; provide talking points
–Place stories in which minority leadership expresses concern about the threat of intimidation tactics
–Warn local newspapers not to accept advertising that is not properly disclaimed or that contains false warnings about voting requirements and/or about what will happen at the polls

Perhaps the Democrats should try giving voters a reason to vote for them, rather than transparently trying to scare up votes.

Colorado DNC Voter Intimidation 2004

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Mark Hemingway

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