Palin 'robocall' comments spark talk of Republican marketing rift

NEW YORK - Republican vice-president hopeful Sarah Palin has said that if she had things her way, the campaign to get McCain elected president would not see voters in swing states bombarded with automated marketing phone calls.

Palin, the governor of Alaska and McCain's running mate, has said things might be different if she were running the campaign and that conventional political marketing methods made voters "irritated with just being inundated" because of the level of activity from both parties in the race.

Democrats were highlighting her comments in a bid to fuel speculation that is a rift in the Republic campaign over the tactic.

Palin told reporters yesterday: "If I called all the shots and if I could wave a magic wand I would be sitting at a kitchen table with more and more Americans, talking to them about our plan to get the economy back on track and winning the war, and not having to rely on the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robocalls, and includes spending so much money on the television ads that I think is kind of draining out there in terms of Americans' attention span."

Automated phone calls, or "robocalls" as Americans have dubbed them, are not an unusual form of marketing in the US, but have become a point of contention in the battle between McCain and his Democrat rival Barack Obama.

The Republican Party faces accusations that it has made thousands of calls in states that are being closely fought, mostly using negative and sometimes misleading information about Obama and the Democrats.

Last week the New York Times reported that one of the negative calls about Obama had been traced back to a firm owned by a Republican consultant called Jeff Larson.

Larson was previously involved with a company that helped develop a robocall campaign against McCain when he was trying to become the Republican presidential candidate in 2000.

Read Gordon's Republic blog post Obama is marketer of the year.