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Daily Digest: 9/12/07

BY Joshua Levy | Wednesday, September 12 2007

The Web on the Candidates - Special

  • Fred Thompson's communication director Todd Harris has come out strongly against what he calls a "half-baked coverup" on behalf of the Mitt Romney campaign after an anti-Thompson site was found to be connected to Romney. "This latest episode only serves to prove what many voters are already figuring out: Mitt Romney will do anything, say anything, smear any opponent and flip flop on any position in order to win." Why the strong words? See the next item...
  • The offending website,, was linked to Under the Power Lines, a South Carolina consulting firm co-owned by Warren Tompkins, a consultant working for the Romney campaign. Jake Tapper is now reporting that an employee of Tompkins', Wesley Donehue, is responsible for the attack site. Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said that Donehue "parked the site temporarily on the company server space of a firm whose financial partner is a consultant to the campaign." The Romney campaign says they have no connection to the site, and that Tompkins was unaware of its existence. The allegations are flying and two top-tier campaigns are sparring. "The Thompson campaign is five days old. The Gloves are off," writes Tapper.
  • It gets juicier. Despite Madden's statement, Wes Donehue is "very much connected to the [Romney] campaign," writes the Politico's Jonathan Martin. Donehue is "an employee in the Columbia-based political consulting firm Tompkins, Thompson and Sullivan which effectively oversees Romney's campaign in South Carolina. Warren Tompkins is Romney's chief strategist in the state and Terry Sullivan is the day-to-day director of the campaign... And while Donehue himself may not be on the Romney for president payroll, the direct mail company he works on and that is under the Tompkins, Thompson and Sullivan umbrella has received thousands of dollars in disbursements so far this cycle."
  • Today marks the beginning of an online "Mashup" forum produced by the Huffington Post, Yahoo, and Slate. Charlie Rose will conduct 15-minute interviews with the Democratic presidential candidates, asking questions that voters have submitted via video and text. Then, those videos will be released to the public to mashup in any way they see fit (well, sort of... see then next item). The idea, I think, is to have the voters ask the questions and produce creative work out of the candidates' responses. To be honest, the description of this project is pretty convoluted, and it's a bit unclear what the idea actually is, but we wish them well and will be watching closely to see how this experiment works. (You can view some submitted videos here.)
  • Meanwhile, Wired's ever-diligent Sarah Lai Stirland reports that "Yahoo has decided not to support citizen remixing of the footage -- reducing the once-bold experiment to little more than a fancy online version of an on-demand cable television offering." Yahoo had originally planned to upload the raw footage from the debate to its Jumpcut service for citizens to use in their mashups. But now a spokesman told Stirland that Yahoo will only let participants choose what candidates they want to hear from, without the ability to mashup actual footage. "Bloggers will be able to embed the video into their sites, YouTube-style, but will have no easy way to repurpose it," writes Stirland. Those who want to create mashups won't be able to use the simple Jumpcut service, and will instead be forced to download individual videos and use desktop video-editing software. Not nearly as fun.
  • TechPresident contributor David All has announced a new TechRepublican Policy Series, "a semi-regular forum for conservatives to discuss technology-related issues from their perspectives." TechRepublican will feature conservatives writing guest posts in an effort to jump-start discussion of technology issues among Republicans. The first post is a conservative argument against Net Neutrality, written by Phil Kerpen, policy director for Americans for Prosperity. Tomorrow we'll see a conservative argument for Net Neutrality.
  • Unity08, the non-partisan group looking to nominate its own candidate for president, has released a comprehensive study of their members that suggests that the majority of Americans are dissatisfied with both major parties. Forty-three percent of respondents said that neither the Democratic nor the Republican party has "good quality choices" for the nomination, and majorities of respondents are not satisfied with the diversity of the candidates or the moved-up primary schedule. Check out the full study for more.

The Candidates on the Web

  • Barack Obama is the second candidate to open a profile on LinkedIn, reports the Washington Post's Jose Antonio Vargas. On a site with profiles of successful consultants, marketing managers, organizers, developers, writers, and editors, Obama will still impress. "Obama's profile boasts his short but nonetheless impressive resume: senior lecturer of law at University of Chicago Law School, state senator at Illinois State Senate, U.S. Senator," Vargas writes.
  • Fred Thompson has been forced to rename the FredCast section of his site -- devoted to audio and video -- because someone else had dibs on the name. Cyclist David Bernstein is the man behind the "The FredCast Cycling Podcast," which has been in operation for two years. Apparently cycling super-enthusiasts refer to themselves as "Freds." Who knew?
  • Note to Hillary Clinton: Get thee a widget. So says Web 2.0 skeptic Craig Stoltz, who is suspicious of the whole Web 2.0 thing (in his about blurb he writes, "Do these innovations help a site accomplish its mission--or just please the boss, investors or restless designers?"). He points out that Hillary's top two competitors, Barack Obama and John Edwards, have widgets. Without one, Stoltz admonishes, "you are keeping bad company, the folks at the back of the pack."

In Case You Missed It...

Fred Stutzman takes a close look at WikiDashboard, a new tool that, its developers claim, provides social transparency to Wikipedia.

Joe Biden is using Searchles to let supporters embed videos from across the web into one video clip, writes Colin Delany.

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