Candidates Go Online To Raise Money, Profile

Presidential hopefuls become more savvy about using the Internet
With this week's Iowa caucuses, the presidential campaign is in full swing. And the candidates are stepping up their use of the Internet for fund raising, enlisting supporters, and getting their messages out.

Howard Dean -- Photo by Getty Images

Dean raised over $7 million online in the third quarter.

Photo of Howard Dean by Getty Images
Former Vermont governor Howard Dean still leads the pack in using the Internet to raise money from small contributors. Half of the $40 million collected by the Dean for America campaign was contributed through the Web. Dean raised $7.4 million from 84,713 donors online in the third quarter, and the Democratic contender has a goal of raising $200 million from 2 million Americans. "The only way we can do that is through the Internet," a campaign spokesman says.

But Dean's rivals are catching on. Retired Army general Wesley Clark has raised $4 million on the Internet. Even President George W. Bush, who relies primarily on personal appearances at fund-raising events for donations, has raised $3.1 million online. Still, that's peanuts compared to the $130 million in total raised by his campaign last year.

Some candidates also have discovered Google and are buying ads on the search-engine site. Search for "Howard Dean," and an ad for the candidate's campaign site pops up. But search for "Dean," and an ad for "clark04" shows up, in a sign that some candidates have become as savvy as the fiercest business competitors about buying Web ads.

All the candidates, including Bush, are following Dean's lead in making extensive use of Web logs, or blogs, and online meet-up features. The Bush campaign provides an online database of every contributor and says it has assembled an E-mail list of 6 million supporters through its Web site, far more than Dean's 564,000 supporters on the Web.

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