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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Where it all began

2012 January 11

By: Richard Kimball, Vote Smart President 

Behind the podium I pinched my knees together as hard as I could. It was a big crowd, live TV and I was young, suddenly very nervous and afraid they would all see my quivering legs.

My U.S. Senate Campaign staff had told me to close the debate with a vicious attack against my opponent in an effort to expose his temper. But as I looked at him during the final commercial break, I knew I would not do it. 

Instead, when the lights came back on, I looked into the camera and said these words, "Understand what it is we do to you. My opponent and I both spend all of our time collecting money from people we do not know, people who will want access to us if we win. And we both spend the money the same three ways.  First we measure you, we find out what you want to buy in the political marketplace.  Then we hire consultants to tailor our image to fit what we know you want to purchase. And finally, we buy all the television time necessary to bombard you with the meaningless issueless nonsense that inevitably results. And the one who does this best is gong to win."

The audience was dead silent, as was my staff following the debate. However, two weeks later in Washington I visited retiring Senator Barry Goldwater, whose seat I hoped to win. As I entered his office he shooed out ...

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