Astroturfing

I guess fake support is better than no support...

The Huffington Post obtained an email showing pro-McCain front group Vets for Freedom is offering to pay frat brothers at Washington University in St. Louis to demonstrate outside tomororw night’s Vice Presidential debate:

In an email obtained by the Huffington Post, Vets for Freedom field staffer Laura Meyer offered a fraternity at St. Louis University a “sizable donation” – plus free lunch – if it could use their pledges to demonstrate outside the VP debate.

“I was emailing you today,” wrote Meyer, “because I am trying to find people who would be willing to hold up signs for a few hours in the afternoon this Thursday outside the VP debate site. It’s only for a few hours and you can gain a lot from it…. first off, lunch for any guys who agree to volunteer will be on me. Secondly, they will get lots of media attention! My organization did a similar thing in Mississippi last week and a ton of them were on TV. Meaning, the guys could wear their [REDACTED] gear while holding up our signs and get attention for their frat. Also, they will get to hang out with a bunch of really cool Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

“Lastly, and here’s the kicker…. if you guys can get us at least 20 volunteers for those few hours, my organization will make a sizable donation to your fraternity. If you use pledges you could look at it as ‘free money and free publicity’. If this sounds like something you may be willing to help us out with, please let me know ASAP!”

Reached by phone, Meyer said the total amount of cash the frat could earn was between $200 and $250 for organizing 20-plus members. She also noted that the program was a success in generating publicity during last Friday’s presidential debate.

[Emphasis mine]

That’s pretty sad–John McCain can’t find any actual supporters to show up, so he’s just cutting checks to whoever is willing to stand there and hold a sign for two hours.

So while Barack Obama is enjoying broad grassroots support, drawing tens of thousands of people at his rallies, John McCain is stuck paying for astroturf.

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