Cute Conference Call Tricks

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Late yesterday afternoon, Obama spokesman Bill Burton sent this email to McCain press chief Jill Hazelbaker — BCC’ing the Obama campaign’s entire press mailing list:

from Bill Burton

to Jill Hazelbaker

date Thu, Jun 19, 2008 at 5:24 PM

subject quick question about your conference call

Jill – hope you’re well. We’d like to add our campaign counsel, Bob Bauer to your conference call with Trevor Potter [scheduled to take place a five minutes from when the email was sent] so that we can arbitrate some of the disagreements that the two of them have over the meeting they recently had. If you can please shoot me the dial-in, Bob is available to join for the first bit, go over his notes from the meeting with Mr. Potter and would be happy to take questions from him, the press corps or whomever. Sorry for the late notice.

We’re of course willing to split the cost of the call.

Talk about transparency! The secret press conference aspect of the email didn’t last long (several perplexed journalists wrote to ask Hazelbaker what was up) but there’s a more indelible layer of irony to the email as well: In the past, Bauer hasn’t even asked to get on opposing candidate’s conference calls. Hazelbaker’s immediate response was playful if pointed:

Jill Hazelbaker

date Thu, Jun 19, 2008 at 5:56 PM

subject Re: quick question about your conference call


Actually, we’d prefer to set up a meeting with the two candidates at ten town halls at locations of Senator Obama’s choosing now through the convention — so we can fully examine his abandonment of his pledge to take public financing.

As to the stunt — a last minute email to me — I only have this to say: that type of boys club bullying embodies an arrogance better suited for a frat house than a serious campaign about serious issues.

Best regards,


Everyone who thinks that either side had any expectation of their request/counter-request being granted, raise your hand. Okay, now use it to click on this link. You’ll be happier there.

I have to say that neither side has a monopoly on occasional fraternity-ish behavior, and neither is a shining example of hiring women in leadership positions, even if they both have high profile female surrogates. And, of course, slinging around accusations of sexism isn’t something you usually see from Republican campaigns. I wonder why they might be saying that…

The Obama team put Bauer on a conference call of his own a short time later.

The actual conference calls can be heard here: McCain, Obama.