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Sen. Tom Harkin
September 27, 2002 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) could cost the Democrats control of the Senate after a former aide tried one of the dumbest political stunts ever. The aide attended a strategy session of Harkin's opponent, Rep. Greg Gaske (R), and taped the discussion. He then gave a transcript to Harkin's campaign manager. As expected, Republicans are turning it to their advantage. The Democrats control the Senate by just one seat. Did Harkin's campaign just hand the Senate to the GOP?
posted by PoliticalJunkie (34 comments total)

 
I don't think it helps, but I think the main problem people have with Democrats these days is Tom Daschle. First it was, the president had advanced notice of the WTC bombing, then we find out Tom had the exact same memo on his desk. Then it was, we were never told about the shadow government. Again, other members of Congress (even democrats) said, they have no idea what he's talking about, they all got the memo and all knew about it. And now this goof-up the other day attacking Bush, when he just misunderstood what he said.

Even Gephardt is keeping his distance lately.

I think the democrats have more to worry about than Harkin's aide's screw-up. However, it is a really funny situation.
posted by the_0ne at 11:35 AM on September 27, 2002


I think the main problem people have with Democrats these days is Tom Daschle.

Thanks for the dittohead perspective. Can we hear from someone in touch with reality now?
posted by goethean at 11:40 AM on September 27, 2002


As expected, Republicans are turning it to their advantage

And, if it were the other way around, the democrats would have turned it to their advantage.
posted by a3matrix at 11:43 AM on September 27, 2002


Hadn't heard about either of the things the_One is talking about. I was pretty sure it was Torricelli who was outing himself as a Republican mole.

A few years back, in Virgina, there was a would-be scandal over Senator Charles Robb taping an opponent's cell-phone calls. Didn't seem to matter to the voters much.
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:44 AM on September 27, 2002


Wow, some of you MeFi'ers really have a hard-time with opposing views, don't you??

I was answering this question...

The Democrats control the Senate by just one seat. Did Harkin's campaign just hand the Senate to the GOP?

...which was put forth by the poster of the thread topic. I didn't go on a tyrade over democrats, I explained what I see to be a stumbling block for the democrats. This Harkin thing will blow over. Don't know if Tom stumbling over things that disturb him will.

<SARCASM>Sorry again for the opposing view.</SARCASM>
posted by the_0ne at 11:45 AM on September 27, 2002


Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, Thursday officially downgraded Iowa from a "leaning Democratic" state to a "toss-up," saying the analysis had to be rewritten from just a few days ago, when Harkin was considered to have a solid lead over Ganske.

Larry Sabato is a doofus with no more ability to predict things than stock brokers or weathermen. I put my money on name recognition in this election battle. Besides, aren't there some other close elections that could swing to the Dems like Phil Gramm's seat in Texas?
posted by machaus at 11:48 AM on September 27, 2002


Though a fairly conservative state, Iowa has been fond of Tom Harkin for some time now. I saw him speak at the University of Iowa a few years back and people just went wild. Though liberal minded, he brings in the pork (sometimes literally) and does wonders for the farmers with his support for ethanol and farm subsidies.

He'll be OK, I reckon.
posted by aladfar at 11:51 AM on September 27, 2002


A few years back, in Virgina, there was a would-be scandal over Senator Charles Robb taping an opponent's cell-phone calls. Didn't seem to matter to the voters much.

Chuck Robb had the good fortune of having Oliver North -- who had a plethora of scandal problems of his own -- oppose him in the next election. I think that Robb eventually was defeated by Sen. George Allen.
posted by Durwood at 11:51 AM on September 27, 2002


Did Harkin's campaign just hand the Senate to the GOP?

Maybe that would be a good thing for the Dems, because they'd never mount a tough, kick-ass, no hold barred opposition to the war effort anyway

If Bush's war on everybody goes well for the current administration (or, if a new 9-11 style attack scares the electorate bad enough), the Dems will get creamed so bad in 2004 that this midterm vote won't matter -- Bush forever, Jenna will be next or something

If the war goes bad and the bad stigma of incompetence/corruption hurts the Republicans, maybe the fact the the Senate, during the 2 years of the big 2002-2004 fuck-up, was in Republican hands, will be key for a big Democratic congressional victory in november 2004

Hard to tell
posted by matteo at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2002


i was just reading about this somewhere the other day, and the article that i read said that it wasn't a harkin aide who did the taping, but someone from gaske's campaign who recording the meeting with permission from those in attendance. then, after being shocked by some of the comments made in the meeting, turned over the tape to the harkin people.

then the gaske people somehow spun this into what we see repeated in the post above. i don't know what is true here, but just for some perspective....

ahh, here's the link (scroll down)
posted by callicles at 11:52 AM on September 27, 2002


Durwood,

That's all true. Just to finally put it all back together, though, it wasn't North who was bugged (I know you didn't say that) but Doug Wilder.
posted by hackly_fracture at 11:57 AM on September 27, 2002


I don't have a problem with opposing views. But your Daschle comments were sufficiently out-there that it sounded more like disinformation that Republicans would disseminate than an actual opinion. Sorry if I was incorrect.
posted by goethean at 11:59 AM on September 27, 2002


Get yourself some Hoffman Lenses and you'll *see* that it really doesn't matter.
posted by Mack Twain at 12:04 PM on September 27, 2002


The only problem is, as callicles said, it wasn't a Harkin aide. Thank you, drive through.
posted by McBain at 12:07 PM on September 27, 2002


As McBain's link points out, this was not some watergate-esqe conspiracy by Harkin staffers. The only thing the Harkin campaign did was hand the transcript out to the media. And the aide that did that has resigned, even though it was not an illegal act.
posted by pitchblende at 12:11 PM on September 27, 2002


everyone seems to be ignoring that the Republican campaign managers were talking about their own dirty tricks on the now infamous videotape. It wasn't like they taped a bake sale or a photo op with the Boy Scouts. They have evidence on that tape of Republican dirty campaign tricks in the making. I think they're now even, but the conservative press seems to ignore the content of the tape itself and instead chooses to focus on a rogue supporter.
posted by cru de meon at 12:14 PM on September 27, 2002


This article is Right-spun bullshit. (Hi, folks, lovely day, ain't it?)

A man who was invited to an event and given permission to tape record it is now the cause of "control of the Senate being in Jeopardy?" I'm amazed at how the DesMoines Register managed to spin this one. Face it: Ganske got caught jerking off in the bathroom, and as is the case his immediate reaction was to scream at whoever opened the door.

Also, considering Watergate, it's laughable to actually call this the dumbest political stunt ever. Hell, considering Linda Tripp's illegal phone-tapping of Monica Lewinsky, it's silly to even call this the worst political stunt involving a tape recorder.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:24 PM on September 27, 2002


According to this, it might not even have been such a high-level meeting, either. "[Invitations] were sent to previous donors who could have contributed as little as $50 to Ganske." Sounds more like it was a pep-rally to me.
posted by Gilbert at 12:26 PM on September 27, 2002


This is fascinating. The Register article, from today, says Harkin is in deep water on this one. But SF Gate, also from today, seems about three steps ahead of the Iowa paper. What gives? The Register doesn't even mention some of the latter's key points, like how Harkin has hired a lawyer to investigate, or that the taping took place at a fund-raising event. What gives? Is the Register anti-Harkin? I'd never thought so, but then that's just my impression; I've rearely read it, and don't know its leanings. But it's a good paper, by reputation, and this is something you'd expect from the Washington Times.
posted by risenc at 12:31 PM on September 27, 2002


Larry Sabato is a doofus with no more ability to predict things than stock brokers or weathermen

Well, Larry Sabato used to be a political consultant and host of This Week in Washington before he went to UofVA. I doubt this qualifies him as a "doofus."

Besides, Harkin's probably gonna win anyway, so what's the diff?
posted by PeteyStock at 1:08 PM on September 27, 2002


PoliticalJunkie, welcome to MeFi. :)

Seems obvious the facts are still in dispute on this one, no? The Iowa Republican head is still claiming a Harkin staffer supplied the tape recorder.

But I really don't see the big deal here, other than the cowardliness of taping something and passing it to someone else to release. If I was Harkin, I'd be hammering home the gist of the taped comments about going negative. And anyone who'd make comments like that to a crowd that included former staffers of his opponent is a fool who's probably best kept out of the Senate.
posted by mediareport at 1:25 PM on September 27, 2002


A consultant friend says internal polls from Harkin's campaign are showing some initial damage from this story. It remains to be seen how much of a story this is, but the resignation of a junior staffer is not the issue. The issue is if anyone in Harkin's campaign knew about the taper of the Ganske meeting.
posted by PoliticalJunkie at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2002


Here's the straight dope from Iowa. The man who taped the conversation a registered Democrat until June of this year when he changed party affiliation to Republican. After attending the Ganske meeting he has since changed his party affiliation back. He is an avowed Harking supporter and has written several letters to the Des Moines Register on his behalf. I even think he was a member of Harkins campaign staff at one time.

Reading between the lines on this one I think this guy had an opportunity to do a little spying for his candidate and took it. Unfortunately his efforts were found out when Harkin campaign staffers handed out the transcripts to the meeting to the press.

The whole affair doesn't suprise anyone from Iowa as Harkin has been a joke and embarassment to most everyone but he has been in Washington a long time and like someone said before, he does bring in the pork.
posted by goona at 1:32 PM on September 27, 2002


Today's Register article with mention of the lawyer hired by Harkin. Personally, I think the Register has taken time to gather facts on this one. I'm not really political but I have to disagree with goona. I've never found Harkin to be an embarrassment to our state. I've spoken with him on occasion and can say that I have respect for the man.
posted by justlisa at 1:52 PM on September 27, 2002


Harkin is a gomer. Plain and simple. From his leap at credibility run for President to his trotting out every personal misfortune that happened to effect his life or the lives of one of his family members, for political gain. The most dangerous place to be in Washington is between Harkin and a camera.
posted by goona at 2:17 PM on September 27, 2002


The most dangerous place to be in Washington is between Harkin and a camera.

Funny, that's what they say here in Massachusetts about John Kerry (who, for what it's worth, has no Republican running against him, not even jokin' Jack. E. Robinson, which tells you something about the state of the GOP here).
posted by agaffin at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2002


Harkin is a gomer. Plain and simple.

Wow, thanks for the thoughtful and informative response. Since when does wanting to be President, loving TV time or tugging at voters' heartstrings distinguish anyone in Washington, DC?
posted by mediareport at 2:50 PM on September 27, 2002


Heh, in the article that justlisa linked, there's an ad for screenyouremployees.com - "Do you know who you're hiring?"
posted by UKnowForKids at 4:35 PM on September 27, 2002


Also, considering Watergate, it's laughable to actually call this the dumbest political stunt ever. Hell, considering Linda Tripp's illegal phone-tapping of Monica Lewinsky, it's silly to even call this the worst political stunt involving a tape recorder.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:24 PM PST on September 27


Right on!
posted by WLW at 6:26 PM on September 27, 2002


"The most dangerous place to be in Washington is between Harkin and a camera."

Or between Ted Kennedy and a passenger door.

Or between Bill Clinton and the wall.

Or between Orrin Hatch and a dollar.

ad infinitum
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:38 PM on September 27, 2002


okay so was that aide the actual anti-christ or just a soulless minion?
posted by damnitkage at 10:07 PM on September 27, 2002


Just for the record, control of the Senate is seen as roughly a toss-up. There are more current Republican seats in play, but they are largely safe or semi-safe. (The Senate class up for re-election came in with Clinton in 1996, so there may have been a slim coat-tail effect in the Dems' favor, thus weaker seats in this election cycle.) In this case, Ganske was gaining on Harkin in any case, so it will be hard to say what the effect of this dust-up might be. It certainly couldn't come at a worse time for Harkin as he heads into the home stretch and tries to keep his slim lead. If he loses, maybe it will be considered a factor.
posted by dhartung at 11:24 PM on September 27, 2002


Iowa's weird; like Wisconsin and Minnesota, it's fairly progressive for a squarish state (it went Dukakis, believe it or not), but the biggest factor in most Iowa elections is not ideology but incumbency. Governors and senators tend to stick around until they retire, and Harkin and Charles Grassley (the other senator from Iowa) are no exceptions. Some above assertions to the contrary, both are generally well-liked, though for different reasons--Harkin is personable, intelligent, and as mentioned tends to bring home the bacon; Grassley is unfailingly honest and has his own, um, folksy charm. But Ganske, at least in the Des Moines area, has name recognition comparable to Harkin's as a result of his terms in the House. He has the personality of a turnip, but his fairly high profile had already ensured that this was going to be the toughest reelection campaign Harkin had ever faced.

Wouldn't you know it? I move out of the state, and immediately they get a nail-biter of an election and the first good Iowa State-Nebraska matchup ever. Bummer.
posted by hal incandenza at 12:21 AM on September 28, 2002


yes, and ISU kicked nebraskas ass!

Go Cyclones!!!!!!
posted by delmoi at 2:49 AM on September 29, 2002


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