Web Videos Helped Put Candidates Into Focus

Weekend Edition's Sunday Soapbox Blogger Mindy Finn tells Liane Hansen that compelling Web videos, helping to define the two candidates.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Joining us now is our political blogger, Mindy Finn. She was head of Mitt Romney's Internet campaign for his candidacy during the presidential primary season. Welcome back.

Ms. MINDY FINN (Republican Online Political Strategist; Former Director of E-Strategy for Mitt Romney '08): Thanks, Liane. It's great to be back.

HANSEN: I'd like to get your thoughts first on the fact that Mitt Romney was not chosen as John McCain's running mate.

Ms. FINN: Well, I was, you know, rooting for Mitt if he - John McCain were to believe he were the right one, but didn't really feel disappointed necessarily that he wasn't chosen. I think that he has other ways for him to serve the country, and he will continue to serve the country how he feels fit.

HANSEN: Do you think there's been a visible shift in the enthusiasm on the blogosphere? You said in the past that in 2008, Web strategy equals campaign strategy. So how do you think John McCain is doing now?

Ms. FINN: I do think there has been a shift. In the past little over a month, you have really seen some improvements in the way that he's reached out to the blogosphere, which is something that he did well before, anyway. But with especially his Web video strategy, he had some very compelling Web videos as this race has really become one between him and Barack Obama, and helping to find Barack Obama, helping to find himself versus Barack Obama, which have really helped shape the media narrative in this race.

HANSEN: Bloggers are actually saying that Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination in part because of his campaign's Internet strategy. Do you have a specific example of something that they did at this past week's convention that might illustrate that?

Ms. FINN: I do. There was one moment that was particularly impressive on Thursday night before his speech in Mile High Stadium when on the screen they showed an interactive map of all the people who were texting to volunteer for his campaign. They'd actually set up something through their text messaging program, sent a text message to all the people in their text messaging database asking them to type vol, V-O-L, and their name and hometown, because they already knew their state. And they would sign them up to volunteer. And they used that enthusiasm of Thursday night, of when he was going to give his speech, to capture that enthusiasm, and then showed it off on the screen with an interactive map of everyone who was texting. That was really impressive.

HANSEN: Do you think John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate will bring changes to his online strategy to reach out to voters?

Ms. FINN: I do. I think that Sarah Palin - well, you know, as we know, most people are talking about her as a surprise choice, as someone they don't know that much about. She really is a game-changer. She's making people look at the race in a different way. She's a woman. She's a young woman. She's really had, you know, an amazing political career so far, really a quick rise. And she's obviously a mother of five. And so I think that does get some more young people, women excited. And that gives the McCain campaign an opportunity to use the blogosphere, to use the Internet, to reach out to these audiences who really spend a lot of their time online.

HANSEN: Mindy Finn is a Republican online political strategist. She'll be blogging from this week's convention in Minnesota.

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