On Dec. 18, for instance, [campaign manager] Mehlman sought to rouse his troops with a message titled, "Foreign liberal cash used to defeat President Bush!" What followed was an extremely unflattering photograph of a grimacing, hook-nosed George Soros (one of the most significant contributors to the unofficial Democratic voter-mobilization organizations that have arisen in the wake of McCain-Feingold) and a message bemoaning the "billionaire liberals and the flood of foreign money that they're encouraging." Mehlman called on "450,000 AMERICAN grassroots contributors" to counter the sinister attempt by Soros -- a native of Hungary but a naturalized American citizen who has lived in the United States since 1956 -- to provide the Democrats with money from an immigrant. The ad comes close to resurrecting the classic anti-Semitic stereotype of the Jewish cosmopolitan financier undermining a Christian republic.
Not to mention voter-intimidation tactics targeting blacks and hispanics:
The battleground on which they tested their latest tactics was the Philadelphia mayor's race, where the campaign of the Republican challenger, Sam Katz, grew extremely nervous at the success the Democrats had had at registering minority voters. The Republican response was an attempt to scare black and Hispanic voters away from the polls -- not a new trick in the Republican playbook by any means, but one that the DNC had better be studying and preparing to confront this November.
To begin, according to Democratic consultant Tom Lindenfeld, who ran the counter-intimidation program for the campaign of Democrat John Street, the Republicans assembled a fleet of 300 cars driven by men with clipboards bearing insignias or decals resembling those of such federal agencies as Drug Enforcement Agency and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Thus arrayed, says Lindenfeld, these pseudo-cops spent election day cruising Philadelphia's African American neighborhoods and asking prospective voters to show them some identification -- an age-old method of voter intimidation. "What occurred in Philadelphia was much more expansive and expensive than anything I'd seen before, and I'd seen a lot," says Lindenfeld, who ran similar programs for the campaigns of Harvey Gantt in North Carolina and other prominent Democrats. In a post-election poll of 1,000 black voters, 7 percent of them said they had encountered these efforts (this being Philadelphia, there were allegations of violence and intimidation against Street supporters as well). Lindenfeld employed 800 people to confront the GOP's faux-agents at polling places.
Lindenfeld's operatives found Republican volunteers from as far away as Missouri, and attorneys from the District of Columbia were discouraging Philadelphia voters from exercising their franchise. That doesn't make the effort an official activity of the RNC, of course. But it does mean that a broad network of Republicans are still honing their techniques for manipulating an election.