Sunday, May 4, 2008

Hillary's Exploratory Announcement

Here's the video that Hillary Clinton posted on You Tube announcing the launching of her presidential exploratory committee that I mentioned in the previous post. It's a great example of how politicians are using the internet to reach out to voters en masse, yet have it be in a way that the viewer feels that they are being spoken to individually.

The Internet and Politics: How Successful Can the Marriage Be?

"Let's talk. Let's chat. Let's start a dialogue about your ideas and mine," Sen. Hilary Clinton said to You Tube viewers. "And while I can't visit everyone's living room, I can try. And with a little help from modern technology, I'll be holding live online video chats this week, starting Monday. So let the conversation begin."

Sitting on her couch in her home outside New York City, Democratic Senator and 2008 Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton delivered this message to viewers throughout cyberspace. Announcing the launch of a presidential exploratory committee, Clinton showed just how big a part of political campaigning the internet and multimedia platforms have become.

This election cycle, the presidential candidates are turning to new forms of media to spread their messages and attract voters; in some cases to gain support in spite of tight budgets and low profiles.

”What is fascinating is that at the presidential level, what the internet allows the candidates to do is find the extreme minority,” says Michael Walsh (pictured directly below), Principal of Pathfinder Communications, a political and corporate consulting company and campaign manager and political strategist for over 15 years. “It allows people who have focused, singular views to come together behind a candidate and create a strong base of support.”

The internet has brought unprecedented levels of support at the ground level, as it has made it possible to reach voters directly through online videos and perhaps more importantly to the candidate, it has allowed for fund raising unlike anything we have seen ever seen.

Rep. Ron Paul, R-TX, perhaps epitomizes this new technological phenomenon. Paul has utilized the internet in new and innovative ways to bolster his name recognition and Q-rating while at the same time raising vast sums of money- money that he would not have been able to raise without the help of the World Wide Web.

“The internet has really empowered the little guy,” says James Kotecki (right), host of Kotecki TV on “The broader fact is that it is now possible for those not getting a fair shake to get play (in the media).”

Just take a quick trip to the social networking sites Facebook and MySpace. On Facebook, the group for Ron Paul Supporters has over 86,000 members nationwide. On MySpace, Paul has over 22,000 “friends” linked to his profile. He uses these two sites to reach out to the younger generation, utilizing websites that are vastly popular among that demographic to create an entirely new base of libertarian disciples.

Though building a constituency amongst the 18-24 year old age group is a great benefit of the ‘net, the much more attractive aspect is undoubtedly the financial one.

At the forefront of online find raising is of course Paul, since he obviously has the largest internet presence of the candidates. Though he was a virtual unknown to most of America before last May’s Republican debate, he was able to raise $4.2 million in a single day from credit card donations through his website on November 5th, according to PBS.

Not to be outdone, Sen. Barack Obama launched his own all out online fund raising assault on the internet community. According to the Washington Post, Obama raised $32 million this January, with a whopping $28 million of it coming in the form of online donations. He even rallied his supporters for an organized one-day cash drive and just like Paul (below), he pocketed about $4 million in a single day.

In addition to the popularity of the internet for the candidates themselves, it seems as if the mainstream media, however reluctantly, has begun to accept the influence that it potentially has, even incorporating it into prime time television.

CNN, one of the world’s most credible news outlets, ran the highly controversial and highly rated You Tube debates, which showed the power of the internet. CNN, recognizing You Tube’s immense popularity, created You Tube Debates for both the Democrats and Republicans. Internet users submitted questions to the candidates via 5,000+ online videos, 40 of which were then broadcast and answered during the televised debate.

Though the internet seems like it has unlimited possibilities for candidates at all levels of politics, many experts agree that it will not replace traditional media in the foreseeable future, as politicians have not yet harnessed its full power.

“Blogs and the internet won’t replace mainstream media,” Kotecki said. “They still need traditional campaigning. Paul gained a massive following (on the internet), but never won more than 19% of the vote in any primary.”

Walsh echoes the sentiment, knowing full well the importance of traditional constituency communication having run numerous campaigns in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Missouri. He believes that the internet is extremely useful for candidates like Paul, who are running on only one or two issues but that direct mail, door to door stumping and network and cable television advertising are still the best ways to reach people.

Established names like Hillary Clinton and John McCain have not had to rely on internet campaigning as heavily as the other candidates, showing that the internet can certainly make a candidate popular. But in the end, the big names will win out, as they have the overall resources to raise more money and stay in the public eye over the long haul.

The risk of relying too heavily on the internet is a very real one. Paul has been labeled the “Internet Candidate” by the media, which is a title that reeks of condescension, and even Walsh warned that using it too much is damaging.

“Depending so much on the internet has made candidates like Ron Paul seem like more of a gimmick than anything to mainstream American than anything,” says Walsh.

Though at this stage, politicians need to use the right balance of traditional and new media, as Walsh and Kotecki have pointed out, they both agree that there still is untapped potential for the internet to become an integral part of campaigning eventually.

Kotecki stressed how the internet provides a soap box for candidates who typically do not get air time on the major networks and that with the right message and format, it can be effective.

Walsh, who has had to deal with demanding clients with tight wallets throughout his consulting and managing career, sees exceptional financial advantages from a budget standpoint if the internet is properly utilized.

“My company, for example, can make a politician a state of the art, dynamic website that can be updated at any time and can provide any online service possible for just about $3,500,” explains Walsh. “On the other hand, in a campaign I did for a congressman last year, we spent over $200,000 just in mailing expenses.”

The relative cheapness, ease of maintenance and the breadth of things that can be uploaded or created on the site is obviously a selling point for any politician. Videos, direct e-mail, interactive menus and pages and online donation capability make the internet a very appealing and potentially effective form of campaigning for candidates at any level of politics despite its current limitations and the criticisms levied against it.

“Ron Paul proved that you still can’t win yet using the internet primarily, but he showed that people can be connected and be brought together using it, and that is definitely fascinating,” Walsh said. “However, the internet is still not much better than a billboard at this point.”

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Famous James Kotecki/Ron Paul Dorm Room Interview

Here's the video of James Kotecki (Politico) interviewing Rep. Ron Paul in his dorm room at Georgetown University. As Kotecki says in the video, it was the first interview of a presidential candidate in a college dormitory room.

Coming soon: Excerpts from an interview I had with Kotecki, where he discusses not only his rise, his thoughts on new media and politics and comments on Rep. Paul's multimedia crusade in his run for the presidency.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Ron Paul Revolution Cometh

Among Young Republicans, the Buzz is About Ron Paul

Posted on: Monday, 31 March 2008, 05:00 CDT

By Paul Franz

While the hotly contested Democratic presidential race has snared the attention of young voters, others have thrown their support to Republican candidates.

Though the numbers point to young people as a valuable constituency for the Democratic Party, there are plenty of young supporters of Republican Sen. John McCain in the county.

"It is without a doubt that McCain is the way to go," said Christopher Burton, 28, a senior communications major at Millersville University and a former Marine.

McCain's fighting experience in the Vietnam War plays very well among those with ties to the military, Burton believes.

"He's someone who would know what to do," said Regina Perkins, 28, an Air Force veteran and sophomore public relations major at MU.

But McCain has not generated as much interest among young voters. His message of candor and accessibility had played fairly well, but for the most part, the youth vote has been trending steadily Democratic since 2002.

It's actually been longshot Republican nominee Texas Rep. Ron Paul who gained an enormous following among young Republicans.

Paul, who was born near Pittsburgh, attracted an enthusiastic following locally.

In Lancaster, an online Ron Paul Meetup Group of more than 100 members organized several rallies and public events through the Internet last year.

Younger voters flocked to Paul's message of economic libertarianism and his staunch opposition to the war in Iraq.

Perkins said many of her friends changed their party affiliation to Republican so that they could support Paul in the April 22 primary, even though the candidate has little chance of thwarting presumptive nominee McCain.

Paul's support has largely been attributed to the Internet. He broke the single-day fundraising record in November 2007 by taking in more than $3 million over 18 hours, most of which was generated through online contributions.

Despite Paul's dim chances of winning the Republican nomination, his YouTube channel, which hosts exclusive campaign videos, currently has the most online subscribers with more than 50,000 people.

No other Republican candidate comes close. McCain only has about 3,600 subscribers.

Paul's support has largely been attributed to the Internet. He broke the single-day fundraising record in November 2007 by taking in more than $3 million over 18 hours, most of which was generated through online contributions.

Originally published by Writer.

(c) 2008 Intelligencer Journal. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Source: Intelligencer Journal

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