|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
For nearly a decade, Allen Raymond stood at the top ranks of Republican Party power.
He served as chief of staff to a cochairman of the Republican National Committee, supervised Republican contests in mid-Atlantic states for the RNC, and was a top official in publisher Steve Forbes's presidential campaign. He went on to earn $350,000 a year running a Republican policy group as well as a GOP phone-bank business.
But most recently, Raymond has been in prison. And for that, he blames himself, but also says he was part of a Republican political culture that emphasizes hardball tactics and polarizing voters.
Raymond, 39, has just finished serving a three-month sentence for jamming Democratic phone lines in New Hampshire during the 2002 US Senate race. The incident led to one of the biggest political scandals in the state's history, the convictions of Raymond and two top Republican officials, and a Democratic lawsuit that seeks to determine whether the White House played any role. The race was won by Senator John E. Sununu , the Republican.
In his first interview about the case, Raymond said he doesn't know anything that would suggest the White House was involved in the plan to tie up Democrats' phone lines and thereby block their get-out-the-vote effort. But he said the scheme reflects a broader culture in the Republican Party that is focused on dividing voters to win primaries and general elections. He said examples range from some recent efforts to use border-security concerns to foster anger toward immigrants to his own role arranging phone calls designed to polarize primary voters over abortion in a 2002 New Jersey Senate race.
"A lot of people look at politics and see it as the guy who wins is the guy who unifies the most people," he said. "I would disagree. I would say the candidate who wins is the candidate who polarizes the right bloc of voters. You always want to polarize somebody."