and Jim Geraghty
both report that another staffer, Sam LeBlond, left the Thompson camp and, according to Ambinder, other departures are imminent. There seems to be some dispute as to whether LeBlond had a significant role in the campaign. Let me share what I know. Late last night I emailed Mark Corallo, Thompson spokesman, to ask whether there were other departures. He responded multiple times by email between 9:20 and 11:00 a.m. this morning that there were no such departures and none in the offing. When I pressed as to whether there were any paid or unpaid departures he responded “nope.” When Ambinder’s story broke I called Corallo to ask why he had given different information. He called me back a short time later to say LeBlond was an ‘intern” and that Corallo could not have been expected to know about such a low level person. I said that the news reports indicated he was an advance staffer, not an intern. Again Corallo said he would check and called be back, this time saying LeBlond was indeed an advance staffer but not someone in any position of authority.
So is this all a tempest in a teapot? Was I misled or did the campaign spokesman just not have all the facts? I would like to believe it is the latter. It does however sound eerily like the pro-choice lobby snafu. (Was Thompson denying the lobbying or did he just have no recollection? Was Thompson denying any White House lobbying or just lobbying Sununu?) We pesky reporters expect that especially in Presidential campaigns we will get honest “yes” and honest “no” and candid “don’t know” answers and hopefully not have to play 20 questions with campaign spokesmen to get an answer we can take to the bank. This, by the way, has been my experience with each of the other three Republican campaigns I cover. It is imperative for campaigns to maintain both the appearance and reality of candor and competence. Otherwise, on really big stuff there will be no reservoir of trust or credibility. Something to think about.