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MS hires spin doctor to lobby for Bush trial backing

The trial creeps ever closer to the campaign

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MS on Trial Microsoft has retained Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and now "senior consultant" to the George Bush presidential campaign. The reason, if it needs to be spelt out, is to persuade Bush to speak against the DoJ case. Bush has previously said that Microsoft was "an engine of growth" and that he favoured "innovation over litigation" which has been taken by many to suggest that he would take Microsoft's side if he became president. Bush has also said recently that he would not discuss specific aspects of the Microsoft case because of the ongoing litigation, which must make him a lonely politician. Microsoft spokesman Mark Murray said Microsoft had hired Reed to parry a "comprehensive lobbying campaign by our competitors" and to get its point of view across, including to Al Gore, although it is not being revealed how Gore is being won over. If he still needs to be, that is. Gore and Steve Ballmer are buddies, and both on the Harvard Board of Regents. Reed's firm Century Strategies is targeting senior Bush supporters from around the country to persuade them to write to Bush supporting Microsoft. The New York Times received one of the emails from a recipient who disagreed with the campaign. Apparently the firm was offering regional contractors $300 for each letter. But that's not all. The emails included a Microsoft-commissioned poll that just happen to show that Americans do not support the case against Microsoft. This poll was the one by Zogby International that we wrote about recently, and at the time we wondered why it was not being much publicised. John Zogby now confirms that the questions in his poll were written by Microsoft. Curiously, Zogby is a registered Democrat who has found the knack of producing results that make Republicans feel good. Iowa attorney general Tom Miller, who leads the case against Microsoft for the plaintiff states, described his poll as "slanted". ® Related item: MS trial waste of money, says poll for MS-backed outfit

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