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by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post
Wall-to-Wall Supporters: It Sure Is Crowded in Here -- or Is It?
This is the time in the political calendar when soothsayers point to the size of crowds at rallies to see which candidate is producing more enthusiasm. The campaigns, well aware of this practice, can't resist putting their thumbs on the scale.
On Tuesday, correspondents from The Washington Post and the Washington Times counted the crowds at President Bush's three stops in Missouri, then compared the actual figure with the official Bush campaign figure:
• Lee's Summit: Actual attendance, 8,500. Bush count, 14,000.
• Sedalia: Actual attendance, 2,200. Bush count, 3,200.
• Columbia: Actual attendance, 8,000 to 9,000. Bush count, 14,000.
It seems that the Bush campaign is inflating its crowd counts by 45 to 75 percent. Some of this may be the result of people walking through metal detectors more than once, but there's clearly some old-fashioned crowd padding going on.