By Wendy Suares
As statewide elections approach, candidates sometimes turn to creative and controversial tactics to win support from voters and take a jab at their opponents. Some supporters of Governor Haley Barbour are finding they've been tricked into going to the website of a Democratic challenger.
The website www.barbourforgovernor.com does not belong to Barbour. Instead the URL was scooped up by the campaign team for John Arthur Eaves, Jr.
"We thought we'd have a little fun, poke him a little on this," said Eaves' campaign manager, John Robinson.
Robinson says the campaign got the idea back in January, when they learned someone in Barbour's camp had purchased URLs like www.haleyforpresident.com.
If they were a commercial company, what Eaves' team did might be illegal. But this would be considered political speech, which is highly protected under law.
"We talked about it," said Robinson. "But political speech is America's most cherished form of speech. So no, this is all in the normal course of running for office."
Not everyone agrees. Angry calls and emails from Barbour supporters have been pouring into Eaves' campaign headquarters since the redirected site was set up last week.
We asked the governor Tuesday what he thought of the website.
"Not much," he answered. "I'm going to try to have a record to get people to vote for me, not a campaign to try to get them to vote against somebody else."
"John Eaves thinks it's hilarious," said Robinson. "We're just having fun with Haley. And if they can't take a joke, maybe they should lighten up a little bit."
The legitimate website for the Haley Barbour reelection campaign is www.haleybarbour.com.