President Bush's New England campaign chairman stepped down Friday after the Democrats accused him of taking part in the jamming of their telephone lines on Election Day 2002.

"The Democrats' allegations against me are without merit," James Tobin said in the statement. "But to avoid any harm to the campaign from their underhanded tactics, I elected earlier this week to step down from my voluntary position with the campaign."

Get-out-the-vote phones run by Democrats and the nonpartisan Manchester firefighters union were jammed on Election Day two years ago by more than 800 computer-generated hang-up calls. The calls tied up the phones for 11/2 hours.

Last summer, Chuck McGee, former executive director of the state GOP, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and admitted paying $15,600 to a Virginia telemarketing company that hired another business to make the calls. GOP consultant Allen Raymond also pleaded guilty.

State Democrats have said they believe Tobin might have put McGee and Raymond together.