Rudy robocalls***

RUDY ROBOCALLS…. Convinced that Republican robocalls can’t get sleazier? You haven’t heard Rudy Giuliani’s contribution to the medium.

“Hi, this is Rudy Giuliani and I’m calling for John McCain and the Republican National Committee, because you need to know that Barack Obama opposes mandatory prison sentences for sex offenders, drug dealers, and murderers.

“It’s true, I read Obama’s words myself. And recently, congressional liberals introduced a bill to eliminate mandatory prison sentences for violent criminals — trying to give liberal judges the power to decide whether criminals are sent to jail or set free. With priorities like these, we just can’t trust the inexperience and judgment of Barack Obama and his liberal allies. This call was paid for by the Republican National Committee and McCain-Palin 2008.”

The phrase “eliminate mandatory prison sentences” is missing a pesky detail. As Greg Sargent, who posted the audio, explained, “Note that Rudy claims Obama ‘opposes mandatory prison sentences’ for rapists and murders, Rudy is actually referring to Obama’s opposition to specific mandatory minimum sentences. By dropping the word ‘minimum,’ he’s insinuating that Obama opposes mandatory prison sentences in general.”

Even by the standards of the McCain campaign and the RNC, this is insane. And given the fact that crime is not one of the key issues of the campaign, maybe Republicans can explain why it’s suddenly the basis for direct-mail pieces in Florida and robocalls in, among other places, Ohio, North Carolina, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Maine.

For what it’s worth, Sen. Gordon Smith, an Oregon Republican, became the fourth Republican senator to denounce McCain’s robocalls today, joining Collins, Coleman, and Snowe.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.