Conservatives continued to misrepresent DNC voter manual's message

Conservative members of the media have continued to echo the misleading charge that the Democratic Party's official policy is to make baseless allegations of voter intimidation against Republicans. This charge is based on Republican distortions of a Democratic National Committee (DNC) Election Day manual advising party workers on methods for combating potential efforts to intimidate minority voters. The manual does not encourage party workers -- either explicitly or implicitly -- to fabricate stories of voter suppression.

As Media Matters for America has noted, Republicans' false accusations about the manual are based on a single sentence: “If no signs of intimidation techniques have emerged yet, launch a 'pre-emptive strike.'” But the subsequent sentences make clear that a “pre-emptive strike” does not mean fabricating evidence of intimidation. Rather, the manual lays out four specific steps that would constitute an effective “pre-emptive strike,” none of which constitute underhanded conduct:

  • Issue a press release
    • i. Reviewing Republican tactic [sic] issued 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

Yet National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg wrote in an October 22 Washington Times column: “The Democrats' voter manual instructs party operatives to 'launch a pre-emptive strike' by charging voter intimidation even if there is no evidence any such thing is taking place.”

On the October 21 edition of CNN's Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics, Bay Buchanan, president of the conservative group The American Cause, asserted: "[Y]ou have the DNC saying, 'even if there's no trouble in your precincts and in the voting, just say there is.' I mean, what kind of statement is that? Just let's start problems, let's start a controversy, let's make it look like they shouldn't have won."

And in an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney that aired on the October 20 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity also misrepresented the manual's message:

HANNITY: A Colorado Election Day manual, and it's a voter intimidation guide, and they say that none exists. In other words, if you don't find any voter intimidation, launch a preemptive strike.

CHENEY: Claim that there's intimidation anyway.

HANNITY: Claim that there is.