Hail Mary Attempt #1: Lieberman's New Thug Strategy
by Matt Stoller, Thu Aug 03, 2006 at 04:54:16 PM EDT
So I just tracked this down with several sources, and something really strange is going on. Lieberman's campaign seems to arming his supporters with aggressive talking points in order to pick fights at Lamont events. There were two separate events today where this happened. At a Machinists union endorsement event for Ned, some Lieberman supporters (probably paid) started arguing with union members, and a sign got torn.
Later in the day, Ned was ambushed at a diner stop. At 5pm, Ned was scheduled to stop at a cheeseburger joint in Meridan (Ted's Cheeseburgers). The burgers were really good, apparently, and the place is famous for delicious cheeseburgers. Mmm. As I write this it's dinner time.
Anyway, Lamont was going to the restaurant for a scheduled stop to do a meet and greet. The field organizer got there 20 minutes ahead of schedule. A bunch of Lieberkidz were already inside, but they were disguised because they weren't wearing their standard white T-Shirts. They were just sitting in the booths, in the smallish restaurant.
There were about 15 Ned supporters outside, holding signs and milling about. There were also some reporters, a photographer, and a bunch of journalists. Ned arrived at 5:05, and spent about 10 or 15 minutes outside before heading in to give a speech and eat a cheeseburger. He goes inside, and all of sudden the field organizer who was behind Ned heard a lot of screaming directed at Ned.
There were only four booths and six stools in the whole place, and they were basically all occupied. When Ned went in, all of the supporters ripped off their 'civilian clothes' and revealed their Lieberman T-Shirts.
A large man, around 50 years old or so, then started screaming at Ned, "Are you an Al Sharpton Democrat, or a Bill Clinton Democrat?" Ned was trying to answer, and the gentleman kept yelling. The Lamont press secretary tried to intervene, and meanwhile, the people behind the counter who owned the restaurant were horrified and embarrassed. Then Ned Lamont went up to the few people in regular clothes and introduced himself, even as the Lieberman supporters kept screaming. He also tried to introduce himself to the Lieberman staffers, but to no avail. The screaming continued, and it was so abrasive that he left, and the whole crowd followed him outside.
These kids poured out, and a half a dozen reporters were mostly outside. The large man kept yelling, and was joined by one particularly obnoxious Lieberman supporter who started yelling about national security and how Lamont would endanger the country. The messaging seemed rehearsed. The Lieberman supporters started getting aggressive, pushing some of the Lamont staffers. When confronted, the Lieberman staffers said that they are just doing what the bloggers did.
In the whole affair, one photographer caught an elbow and got a bloody nose. It seems that the Lieberman campaign is explicitly setting up their supporters at Lamont events in tense and aggressive situations, all in the presence of reporters. When asked, the Lieberman campaign is expressing outrage at the unsavory and unruly behavior of the Lamont supporters.
It's like third grade version of Karl Rove, and it really upset all the people at the various events, who are now going to tell everyone in their town about it. Connecticut is still a small town state, and this does not go over well. Picking a fight and then blaming it on the people you picked a fight with is an interesting tactic, and an extremely high risk move to get the reporters to do a feeding frenzy on the movement behind Lamont. The Lieberman campaign is hoping that the press will pick up their narrative, and begin to express the same outrage that Lieberman feels at his challenger, and the people of Connecticut who are unhappy with their Senator. How dare they?!?! was always the unstateed campaign message, and now, apparently it's also the new field strategy.
Update: Tim Tagaris has more, including some pictures that show a little bit of the scene.