Political candidates remain cautious of recording devices on campaign trail

    The prevalence of discreet recording technology means anyone can follow a politician on the campaign trail, hoping to catch a gaffe or stumble and immediately share it online. But it also means that some campaigns are getting more cautious about who they let near a candidate.

    The prevalence of discreet recording technology means anyone can follow a politician on the campaign trail, hoping to catch a gaffe or stumble and immediately share it online. But it also means that some campaigns are getting more cautious about who they let near a candidate.

    Television viewers may remember this ad against incumbent Senator Arlen Specter, which ran prior to the April primary.

    “My change in party will enable me to be reelected…”

    That clip of Specter speaking directly to the media helped Congressman Joe Sestak defeat Specter. But even before that ad, there was Republican Senator from Virginia George Allen. Allen’s political career ended after this 2006 campaign stop got recorded by the opposition. Allen’s comments to an Indian-American were interpreted as racist.

    “My friends we’re gonna run this campaign on positive constructive ideals…this guy over here Maccacca or whatever his name is…

    Craig Snyder is a political consultant based in Washington D.C. Snyder says the George Allen incident continues to haunt candidates.

    “And ever since then there’s been a new awareness of the omnipresence of recording technology and then being caught in the gaffe.”

    This year’s campaigns are no exception. Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett does not publish his campaign events, and has had no formal campaign press conferences. Republican Senatorial candidate Pat Toomey has gotten more aggressive recently in keeping out anyone who is not a credited journalist. And at a recent debate between Congressional candidates Jim Gerlach and Manan Trivedi, a WHYY reporter was barred from recording audio by Gerlach staffers.

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