Campaigning is gettin’ dirty in South Carolina

By Hadley Robinson

Voters in South Carolina, the first southern state to hold a primary, are being inundated with phone calls and mixed messages — including lies and false rumors about rival candidates.

South Carolina is known for nasty politics. In 2008, political pranksters called voters to spread rumors about John McCain having an illegitimate child. In 2012, a group sent out a Christmas mailer falsely claiming to be from the Mitt Romney family that was filled with controversial passages from the Book of Mormon.

The Cruz campaign seems to be joining this tradition. They made an anti-Marco Rubio website that had a photoshopped image of Rubio and Obama shaking their left hands and smiling in front of the Capitol building. After some bad press about it, the image seems to have now been replaced.

Dirty tactics aren’t confined to the South though. The Cruz campaign also spread false rumors on the day of the Iowa caucus saying that Ben Carson had dropped out of the race.

Not all of us are being bombarded with campaign calls as primary candidates try to claw out a win, so a South Carolina newspaper is helping to give us the full experience. The Post and Courier is collecting dirty campaign tricks from readers. Often people don’t know who the caller is, or which campaign they represent.

Here’s some examples of what’s happening on the ground. (These are user-submitted experiences, so The Post and Courier warns that their accuracy can’t be guaranteed.)

“While at work Thursday, a message was left on my home phone. The message was completely in Spanish, but the words “Rubio,” Cruz” and “amnestia” were recognizable. At the end of the message, the “South Carolina Conservative Renewal, 803–317–2695” were mentioned in English.”

This is one for Cruz, against Trump:

The phone rang and I answered. The man said are you voting for cruz and I said no I was voting for either Trump or Rubio. The man said Mr Trump wants to expand obamacare and make us pay more and Mr Rubio wants to bring all the mexicans in and move them into my neighborhood. I got very upset.

Another call for Cruz:

A young lady called said she was a Christain and was me and my wife Christians I said yes we are. She said Donald Trump likes to kill unborn babies and he is going to Hell and if we voted for him we are going to Hell.

One person’s just tired of hearing Jeb’s voice:

I don’t last long enough to get message. Phone rings incessantly: last night almost 10 times right up until just after 10 pm. I’ve heard Jeb’s voice about as much as my husband’s the last couple of days.

For more about what people in South Carolina are being called about, read the Post and Courier’s Whisper Campaign website.

What do you think? Can these type of dirty campaign tricks be stopped?