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Daily Digest: 9/19/07

BY Joshua Levy | Wednesday, September 19 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • Harry Shearer -- better known as the voice behind several Simpsons characters and as Spinal Tap's Derek Smalls, my favorite bass player of all time -- is moderating a new, silent kind of debate. In the first round, he pits Mitt Romney against Hillary Clinton, making one rule clear: no talking. As he asks the candidates about topics like Iraq and God, they sit quietly staring at the camera. If it sounds slightly funny, let me assure you -- it's hysterical. Jose Antonio Vargas at the Washington Post has more.
  • Another new online debate forum is set to begin, this time sponsored by MySpace and MTV. Their joint venture, in which the candidates will speak at colleges across the country and answer questions submitted on the web, will kick off next Thursday, September 27th. John Edwards is the first candidate up. We look forward to seeing how this will turn out; hopefully they can learn from the example of the Huffington Post/Slate/Yahoo mashup-thing.
  • Off the Bus, the joint venture from the Huffington Post and Jay Rosen's, is getting a new leader. According to Wired's Sarah Lai Stirland, Journalist Marc Cooper will head up the project, which is using citizen journalism to cover the 2008 election. Cooper "will begin working with approximately 15 'Campaign Correspondents' who've committed to writing twice a week and who will be tracking different issues," HuffPost spokesman Mario Ruiz told Stirland. Although Off the Buss has been off to a somewhat slow start, as the season gathers momentum, and more people start to pay attention, we're sure it will become a go-to source for election coverage.
  • Stirland also reports that Mike Bloomberg supporters are organizing on Facebook to try to convince the NYC mayor to run for president. Right now, only 14 people are slated to show up to a meetup organized by a group of supporters, but on Facebook, these things can explode.

The Candidates on the Web

  • You know someone's running for president when they make an appearance in Second Life. Yes, Newt Gingrich will be showing up in the virtual world on Sept. 27 to host a workshop with his group American Solutions for Winning the Future. It will be held on the virtual West front of the virtual U.S. Capitol, "where 13 years to the day earlier the Contract with America was signed on the steps on the real West end of Capitol." Got that?
  • Last night, Hillary Clinton held an "interactive" Q&A session on her site about her health care plan. The strategy was simple: supporters sent in questions to the campaign and Hillary answered them. Hotline's Athena Jones says the model wasn't really that interactive. "It wasn’t exactly a conversation. Her campaign’s blogger, Crystal Patterson, moderated the forum, reading the questions chosen," Jones wrote. Clinton's use of technology is rarely groundbreaking and keeps expectations low, yet she still seems to be able to use it to appeal to her core supporters -- remember the song contest?
  • The candidate formerly known as...: Dennis Kucinich has a new website, now parked at the Prince-like URL It certainly looks better than his previous design, which I swear was a relic from the Wayback Machine. The site now sports all kinds of the candidate-site bells and whistles, with Action Center, Dennis Gear, TEXT Dennis, Newsletter Signup, and Photo Gallery buttons prominently displayed in a style reminiscent of, well, every other Democratic candidate site. I do like the big tab at the top that takes you to Kucinich's YouTube page. There's a blog too but, um, "there are no items to display." Come on Dennis, at least welcome us to the new site!

In Case You Missed It...

Chris Dodd, whose web team has been consistently inventing new ways to reach out to supporters, launched a new web campaign yesterday in support of Dodd's Habeus Corpus Restoration Act.