The Internet's Emerging Campaign Role Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) used his Web site to announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee. As politicians learn to use the Web to reach out to voters, its importance grows for the 2008 presidential election.
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The Internet's Emerging Campaign Role

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The Internet's Emerging Campaign Role

The Internet's Emerging Campaign Role

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Okay enough for Senator Dodd. Is Barack Obama already the front runner for the democratic nomination, asks Time Magazine. The Illinois senator just said he's setting up an exploratory committee yesterday, online, on his Web site. Democratic strategist Joe Trippi led Howard Dean's meteoric campaign three years ago. That was the first great blend of politics and online. And when we spoke earlier, I asked Joe Trippi, has he seen Barack Obama's announcement.

Mr. JOE TRIPPI (Democratic strategist): I did see it, I though you know here's a guy who, who understands that you can now talk to voters without a filter and reach out to them in this new medium. I think it was very smart of him to do it that way.

CHADWICK: You've seen his Web site then?

Mr. TRIPPI: Yes I have.

CHADWICK: You notice on it, there's a big button, contribute here. A very big button.

Mr. TRIPPI: Yeah. Well we, we had, we, we started that.

CHADWICK: That's what you did.

Mr. TRIPPI: Yeah. Well it was one of the things we did.

CHADWICK: How much is that going to remake politics this year? Running a political campaign with online donations.

Mr. TRIPPI: Well I think somebody like Barack Obama, it's very important. Because he's actually started pretty late. I mean Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, for instance - Edwards has been running since the day he and Kerry lost and lost the fight with Bush, you know, a couple years ago. So, they had national network, financial networks going out there. Obama starts without that infrastructure, but he can build it you know in a matter of days on the, on the Internet.

CHADWICK: You think you could run a campaign pretty much based on the Web?

Mr. TRIPPI: Absolutely. I mean, absolutely. It would totally change politics because we don't have to wait for McCain-Feingold or some campaign finance reform. The American people will do it themselves by supporting someone like Barack Obama or one of the other candidates.

CHADWICK: Senator Edwards is the other person who seems to be making a lot of use of the web right now. How do you contrast his approach with that of senator Obama?

Mr. TRIPPI: Well Edwards has been, has always been someone who's used the internet for - you know, wisely, smartly, and gets it - he definitely does. I thought his announcement in New Orleans, and what they did with sort of special videos on YouTube and things - it was very, very good job of leveraging the Internet and, and the viral nature of all of us being able to share information with each other.

CHADWICK: Isn't there a contradiction here? We think of on-line as a place for younger people, we think of the voting booth as a place for older people.

Mr. TRIPPI: Well I think that's because we think about these things wrong. I mean the, the Dean campaign; the average age of our online person that signed up was 47 years old. So I think we mentally, or for some reason we have this thing of the net as younger and it is. But it's not as young as we think. It's a fairly strong mix of the generations and more and more people are you know becoming connected to the net. So it's becoming more diverse and more like the rest of America. So I think you're - particularly in 2008 - you're going to see a real explosion of energy and the number of people who sign up for these candidates. And not just the money, but actually get involved walking precincts, leafleting, doing the old door to door kind of campaigns that television took out. The internet's putting people back into the process and that's pretty important.

CHADWICK: Democratic strategist and online guru Joe Trippi. Thank you Joe.

Mr. TRIPPI: Thank you for having me.

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