RUMSEY, YOLO COUNTY (CBS13) — Former Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey chuckles when he talks about the prison sentence Roger Stone faces for lying to Congress and witness tampering.
“I may take him a sandwich if he goes to jail,” McCloskey says with a smile.
McCloskey lays claim to the dubious honor of being the target of Stone’s very first dirty political trick. It happened in 1972 when McCloskey, a decorated Korean War veteran and vocal opponent of the Vietnam War, challenged President Richard Nixon’s re-election in the Republican primaries.
“I knew I would never be president. My goal was to try to get a vote against the war that would scare the Nixon people into ending it,” he said.
Roger Stone was only a couple of years out of high school when he went to work for Nixon’s re-election campaign and seized the opportunity to try to sabotage McCloskey’s challenge. FBI documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show Stone traveled to New Hampshire to present a donation to the McCloskey campaign of $125 on behalf of the Young Socialist Alliance in Massachusetts.
Stone had initially been asked to say the donation was from the Gay Liberation Movement – but he refused. Stone later sent a receipt for the donation to the conservative-leaning New Hampshire Union Leader in an apparent effort to paint McCloskey as a communist.
Although McCloskey is 92 years old, he remembers the 1972 incident as if it happened yesterday.
McCloskey eventually became disillusioned with the Republican party and quit in 2007. He believes Roger Stone is a prime example of the breakdown in civility in politics.
“He is a slimeball. He represents the worst of the American political scene,” McCloskey said.
As it turns out, Stone’s $125 donation to McCloskey in New Hampshire was a waste of Nixon’s campaign money. McCloskey said the Union Leader’s right-wing publisher at the time, William Loeb, refused to run with the story.