Ed Rendell astroturfs anti-Romney "protest"

It’s an election year, so ’tis the season for dirty tricks. Keeping that in mind, there’s probably nothing terribly surprising about this story. Mitt Romney’s bus tour is hitting a number of stops in swing states this weekend where the candidate is criticizing the administration’s record on jobs and the economy. With the press bus in tow, they were heading for a stop at a Wawa convenience store in Pennsylvania when some reporters began tweeting that the event was being “moved to an undisclosed location.” The reason soon became evident.

Democratic protestors on Saturday threatened to disrupt a scheduled campaign appearance by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at a Wawa location in Quakertown.

Between 150 and 250 anti-Romney protestors had gathered at the Wawa and in the immediate area, appearing to substantially outnumber Romney supporters shortly after noon. More Romney supporters were arriving as the candidate’s appearance drew closer.

Nothing wrong with the story so far, right? If Romney announces an appearance and some of the more liberal residents of that part of Quakertown want to show up and make their voices heard as well… hey, it’s a free country. But wait. There’s more.

Eyewitnesses said at least some of the anti-Romney demonstrators, led by former Governor Ed Rendell, had arrived on a bus…

Rendell himself and a second contingent of several dozen people were visible in a gravel lot some distance from the Wawa. Rendell addressed that group from a lectern for several minutes. They then walked down the road to join the group near the Wawa.

So Mitt shows up to talk to the people of Quakertown, but rather than let the cameras catch the actual response of the locals, the Democrats dispatch MSNBC DNC spokesperson, former Governor Ed Rendell, to load up a bus with Democratic Party workers. They trail the Romney bus around and try to make it look like more people are opposed to his candidacy.

Nothing technically illegal about it as near as I can tell, but it certainly smells a bit of dirty pool, no? And if you’re really “speaking for the people” then you’d think that enough of them would show up on their own to make your point for you, eh? It’s a fairly cheap parlor trick as I see it, and we can surely look forward to many more of them as the summer wears on.

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