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10/31/2005
05:49 PM
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Candidates Reach Voters With Blogs, RSS, Text Messages

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's high-tech campaign is the latest example of a new wave of how candidates are reaching voters via new media and changing the meaning of grassroots politics.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's campaign is going mobile. The mayor's campaign Web site landed a spot on AOL's beta site AIM Today, where his smiling face appeared Monday morning next to the image of a cell phone and the words "Text Mike."

In addition to urging people to send messages to the mayor, the Web site offers campaign news alerts and RSS feed. Though the billionaire mayor paid for the advertisement, it warns users that they will have to pay their usual company fees for the "alerts."

Bloomberg's opponent Fernando Ferrer has no mobile text messaging ads on his site, but he does offer RSS feed and has posted a blog which reads like a diary of campaign events and issue summaries.

In San Francisco, the Chinese American Voter Education Committee launched a text messaging campaign to get out the vote. News reports from Europe and Asian show that text messaging has become a widely-used and sometimes powerful campaigning tool overseas. In the United Kingdom, a group of experts on how technology is influencing politics has put together a primer for using the Internet and other growing communications media for political campaigns.

Across the United States, elected officials are showing signs that they're becoming more Internet savvy.

During the grand jury investigation that culminated last week in charges against senior White House official Lewis Libby, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald launched a site devoted to the investigation.

New York State Attorney General and gubernatorial hopeful Eliot Spitzer has had a steady online presence both by issuing news releases on his official government Web site and by taking his pull-no-punches approach to law enforcement to the Internet realm.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert began a blog last week.

Hastert confesses and informs with these words in the first few lines: "This is new to me. I can’t say I’m much of a techie. I guess you could say my office is teaching the old guy new tricks. But I’m excited. This is the future. And it is a new way for us to get our message out."

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