The document, dated May 15, 2008, and denied by the McCain campaign team, presents a memorandum written by US presidential contender John McCain’s senior adviser Steven Schmidt, entitled “Clinton Strategy”. The document details a strategy designed to exploit and increase rivalry between followers of the Democratic Party candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. If genuine it appears that it was sent to a wider McCain campaign team group which focussed on internet based campaigning.
According to the memo, the conflict between Clinton and Obama has created a possibility, on the event of an Obama nomination, to “depress the turnout of key Democratic demographics in November”. To reach voters consisting mainly of “white, female voters over the age of 40”, a strategy has been worked out, based on newly tested “lines of attack through independent pro-Clinton communities on the Internet”, “local ‘meet-ups”, and similar means.
Wikileaks contacted Jeff Sadosky, spokesman for the McCain campaign team who stated on May 27 (prior to publication) that the document was “obviously not authentic whatsoever”.
If the document is fabricated, who was behind framing McCain’s advisor and their methods are of significant public interest. Wikileaks currently can not take a clear position on the document.
Three key points, believed to “resonate well” are identified to weaken Obama’s position and prevent growth out of Clinton’s loss of the nomination.
1. Sen. Obama’s connection to Rev. Wright
2. His inexperience
3. His links to the corrupt Chicago political machine
The memo calls for a “greater commitment on the part of McCain’s fundraisers and our various media partners” to help in this effort. As an example, “Clinton campaign’s narrative about the unfair treatment that some networks, specifically MSNBC, have given her camp” is adduced.
Is the memo fabricated?
* Unequivocal denial from McCain spokesperson Jeff Sadosky.
* Election campaigns have a history of producing some fabricated leaks.
* Motive is present. The memos publication would benefit Obama and punishes Clinton and McCain.
* Would the McCain team be so injudicious as to write, in passing, ‘We have organized dozens of “meet-ups” across the country for Clinton supporters’ if indeed it had?
* Relatively informal language.
* Election campaigns have a history of producing many more true leaks than fabricated ones.
* Campaign committees have a history of denying true leaked memos.
* The memo is highly critical of Obama, but it is Obama’s campaign that has the primary motivation in fabrication.
* Election campaigns are long, fast moving and stressful. There is a history of injudicious memos.
* Informal language is frequently used within a campaign group. Campaign groups tend to become very close, united by their common purpose.
* If engaging in a fabrication a politically stronger fabrication could have been produced.
* Despite Wikileaks sitting on the document for several days while waiting for comment from the McCain team the memo has not appeared elsewhere on the internet or in the press. Nor did the McCain spokesperson mention that they had seen it before.
* The source, in their submission said they were unhappy about the “astroturfing” issue and that there was “no urgency” in releasing the document.
* Genuine sources want protection, but campaign fabricators want maximal dissemination. Why hasn’t the document been disseminated?