The person with a video camera at the back of the next Bernie Sanders or Martin O’Malley campaign event might be a pro-Clinton spy.
The super PAC Correct the Record, which coordinates directly with Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, has begun deploying a small handful of so-called "trackers" to discretely record the public events of her two main rival Democrats, a spokesperson confirmed to msnbc.
Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee, the two other declared Democratic presidential candidates, have so far not been assigned trackers.
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O’Malley's campaign has spotted Correct the Record trackers at four events in Iowa and two in New Hampshire, all since July 16. Sanders’ campaign has also spotted trackers from the group, but did not provide a specific number or locations of the sightings. “[W]e have indeed merited their attention. Kind of flattering I guess,” said Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs in an email.
Correct the Record spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the use of trackers is standard practice. “We’re doing our due diligence and we’d expect others to do the same,” she said.
The New York Times previously reported that a Correct the Record tracker was spotted an O’Malley event on immigration reform in Des Moines, Iowa.
Deploying camera-wielding operatives is nothing new in politics, though the tactic is occasionally controversial and confrontational.
But this is the first time trackers have been deployed in the 2016 Democratic primary, and it marks a new level of intensity in the intra-party nomination battle, which has otherwise been relatively genteel. It also indicates that Correct the Record will engage directly in the primary contest, a role that was unclear not long ago.
The campaigns of O’Malley and Sanders say they have so far not deployed trackers. “Trackers? We don’t even have pollsters,” said Briggs, the Sanders spokesperson.
Ron Boehmer, a spokesperson for the pro-O’Malley super PAC Generation Forward, said his group has also not deployed trackers and doesn’t plan to. There is currently no major super PAC supporting Sanders.
Republican candidates are regularly followed and recorded by American Bridge, the anti-GOP super PAC from which Correct the Record spun off several months ago.