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Kerry Gets Cozy Online
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 6, 2004; 9:42 AM
A number of online news outlets preempted the Massachusetts senator's announcement by running breaking news pieces this morning. The Wall Street Journal's Web site published the e-mail, whose text was a considerably more traditional campaign pitch for the Kerry-Edwards ticket: "In an e-mail sent to supporters this morning, Mr. Kerry wrote that Mr. Edwards 'has shown courage and conviction as a champion for middle class Americans and those struggling to reach the middle class.' ... Mr. Kerry said that he is eager 'for the day this fall when he stands up for our vision and goes toe-to-toe with [Vice President] Dick Cheney."
Reuters earlier this morning reported that "It would be the first time a candidate used the Internet for such a crucial announcement. A campaign aide said about 150,000 people had signed up since Kerry told reporters on Friday they would hear the news first."
The New York Times picked up on Kerry's reliance on e-mail to help spread the word. "The first public word of Mr. Kerry's selection is to be conveyed after the phone calls in an e-mail message to supporters who signed up on the Web site johnkerry.com, aides said." The Times also had the lowdown on Kerry's appearance in Pittsburgh today to deliver the news on Edwards. "If all goes according to plan, Mr. Kerry will appear at a big morning rally in Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh and announce his choice at about 9 a.m. Tuesday, aides said, before flying to Indianapolis to address a convention of the A.M.E. Church. He will then return to his wife's farmhouse in Fox Chapel, Pa., in the critical electoral turf of Allegheny County, to await the arrival of his new No. 2 for an overnight visit." But the paper added this to hedge its bet: "A few aides cautioned that given Mr. Kerry's penchant for secrecy, he could still delay the announcement in reaction to news accounts of his deliberations."
The Los Angeles Times also reported on how anticipation of the e-mail announcement boosted traffic to the campaign's Web site. "Since Friday, when Kerry said that subscribers to his website would be the first to receive the news in an e-mail, more than 150,000 new people have registered to receive campaign announcements, adding to the 1 million who had already subscribed. ... And President Bush's reelection campaign sent out a memo to reporters saying that any boost in the polls that Kerry would get after his announcement would follow historical trends and should not be read as a sign of strength against the incumbent."
Joe Trippi, campaign manager and Internet guru for one-time Democratic candidate Howard Dean, wrote about the use of the Internet in this year's presidential campaigns in an article published on MSNBC's Web site. "John Kerry has adapted quickly to the possibilities and responsibilities of building an Internet constituency. Four years ago (or even four months ago) who would have predicted that the vice presidential announcement, the single most important decision a nominee can make, would be revealed first not to party leaders and big donors, but to the one million grassroots activists supporting him through johnkerry.com – the new political 'bosses' who Kerry describes as 'the people who've helped carry this campaign…and [who will] be the first to know what my decision is.'"
The Bush campaign used the Internet to pour scorn on Kerry's choice in advance of the news. "Even before the choice was announced, the Bush-Cheney campaign sought to diminish the choice," The Washington Post reported today in early coverage posted on the washingtonpost.com Web site. "Spokeswoman Nicolle Devenish said in an early morning email that Kerry's selection would be the candidate's second choice, a reference to the fact that Kerry initially sought to recruit Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who is supporting Bush for reelection." The Bush campaign also published a memo on its Web site about how Kerry is expected to get a "bounce" because of the Edwards selection and the upcoming Democratic convention. Meanwhile, the campaign also posted the news that Sen. John McCain is supporting Bush in a televised ad campaign.
The Kerry campaign kept the news under such wraps that some outlets got the story completely wrong. The New York Post declared Missouri Congressman and former Democratic candidate Richard Gephardt as Kerry's vice presidential choice and plastered it on its front page. The paper then posted an updated Associated Press story this morning on its Web site after news leaked that Edwards got the nod.
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