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Daily Digest: 8/16/07

BY Joshua Levy | Thursday, August 16 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • Conservative blogger Scott Olin Schmidt posts a sophisticated argument that Democrats are behind the recent "Gays for Giuliani" video. Although the maker of the video, Ryan Davis, describes himself as "a gay New York City resident who lived here while Rudy was Mayor," Schmidt digs deeper to find a partisan connection to the GfG campaign. Its website "is owned by the notorious Mike Rogers, an avowed Democrat and blogger-activist best known for outing Republican Members of Congress and their staffs," Schmidt writes. He argues that since Democrats would prefer to fight Mitt Romney rather than Giuliani in a general election, "shadowy Democrat-funded 527" groups could be springing up to spread pre-primary oppo on Giuliani, the more formidable foe. And Ryan Davis has asked for contributions on the Huffington Post, writing that "we've decided to air a 30-second version of the ad in South Carolina, where the voters need the most education about Rudy's record" about gay rights. This, Schmidt suggests, could be illegal, though at this point we at techPresident don't see why. In any case, Schmidt's post makes it clear that the GfG video and campaign isn't being conducted by newbies to politics, and could be the harbinger of far more nefarious online trickery.
  • Meanwhile, another video from Giuliani's halcyon days as New York mayor has surfaced, this time showcasing Giuliani's 1996 position that "we're never ever going to be able to totally control immigration to a country that is as large as ours." It's a major rebuke to his current position that he will end illegal immigration. Jonathan Martin at the Politico says "an aide to one of [Giuliani's] rivals" (but not Mitt Romney) sent him the video; Josh Marshall calls the 1996 argument "eminently reasonable and even eloquent." Immigration arguments and sources aside, a large part of the battle between Giuliani and Romney is now coming down to who has the fewest documented flip-flops on YouTube, and they could both be more threatened by moderate versions of their younger selves than by any future "macaca moments."
  • And then there's this: Giuliani dressed up as an African tribesman, chiding a lion for being lazy and on the dole. "If the ascendance of YouTube isn't Giuliani's nightmare I don't know what is," says MyDD's Jonathan Singer.
  • The YouTube debate was just the beginning. The Wall Street Journal's Amy Schatz tells us to get ready for "a host of Web-based debating experiments -- from 'video mashups' to instant-message questioning -- that will continue to transform how debates are produced and watched." From next month's debate, co-sponsored by Yahoo, Slate, and The Huffington Post, to MySpace's upcoming "forums," in which they will film individual candidates at college campuses across the country, the web is inspiring a shakeup in how we view the debates, and our relationship to our candidates. Finally.

The Candidates on the Web

  • John Edwards, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Dennis Kucinich have started using mobile technology in their campaigns, but their approaches have been far from trailblazing. "I think that they are pushing the envelope, but they are not pushing the envelope far enough," techPresident contributor Justin Oberman told US News & World Report's Nikki Schwab. Unsurprisingly, no Republican candidates have used mobile yet. But "tech-savvy conservative bloggers who have already used their influence to persuade skeptical Republican presidential candidates to attend a CNN/YouTube debate in November, are also encouraging them to use mobile technology in new and innovative ways."
  • Having witnessed "macaca"-inspired George Allen's downfall, campaigns now routinely arm interns or staffers with video cameras to shadow, or "track," the opposition, hoping to catch the next "macaca moment." To avoid those moments, Joe Trippi suggests campaigns "flood the zone," but in Maine, as the Politico's Patrick O'Connor writes, Sen. Susan Collins sent a letter to her opponent, Democratic Rep. Tom Allen, asking him to cease with the tracking already. "Tactics such as tracking demean the political process, contribute to voter cynicism and have no place in the type of substantive issues-oriented campaigns that our voters deserve," he wrote. Meanwhile, Rep. John Kuhl of New York has joked that he "thought about packing" a gun because of anti-war protesters in his district.

In Case You Missed It...

Alan Rosenblatt wants to know: Why so many of the candidates' restrict searching for content on their own websites?