You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Edwards: End the War in 150 Characters or Less

BY Michael Whitney | Friday, May 11 2007

John Edwards is taking a big first step for mobile advocacy in '08. In a fundraising email yesterday, Edwards asked supporters to contribute money for a full-page ad to run in The Washington Post that shows the 100,000 names signed on to his petition to end the war in Iraq. You can see the ad here.

A full-page advocacy advertisement is not notable by itself, but take a look at the bottom of the page. In addition to directing people to his web petition, the ad gives the option to show your support by texting "Iraq" to 30644, an SMS short code set up by the Edwards campaign.

I texted the number, and got a reply about 20 minutes later:

Thanks for signing up to support our troops and end the war. Please "Reply" to take the next step and text your email address. (Use * instead of @)

I have yet to receive anything after replying with my email address. I'm not sure whether that's because the system is a bit slow, or if I messed something up in replacing the ampersand with an asterisk. (This can be a point of confusion: do you enter the character *, or do you press the * button on your phone?)

Regardless, this is an unprecedented move into mobile advocacy by a presidential campaign. It seems like the Edwards campaign thinks that for people reading newspapers on the go, giving the option of using SMS makes it easy for people to show their support immediately upon seeing the ad. You don't have to wait for people to get to their computers and eventually navigate to your website. You get them right there, right now. I'm interested to see how the cell numbers and email addresses will be used by the campaign in the future. Will they match up the data to their existing records? Will they do direct SMS asks for future campaigns? Will they dare explore mobile fundraising?

Edwards was the first of the '08 bunch to start Twittering, and since then we've seen other campaigns jump in. Now that Edwards is continuing to explore new ground in mobile technology, we're likely to see others follow suit. Kudos to the Edwards camp for taking this big first step.