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Man Behind the Clinton Clip Worked for Obama's Net Strategists

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By Chris Cillizza, Zachary A. Goldfarb and Michael D. Shear
Thursday, March 22, 2007

The creator of a controversial YouTube clip that attacked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) was an employee of the Internet strategy firm on the payroll of the presidential campaign of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

"I made the 'Vote Different' ad because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process," Phil de Vellis wrote on the liberal blog Huffington Post.

De Vellis resigned from Blue State Digital, an Internet strategy firm, once his identity became known.

The Obama campaign had previously insisted that no one affiliated with the campaign had anything to do with the ad, a position that spokesman Bill Burton reiterated last night. "The Obama campaign and its employees had no knowledge and had nothing to do with the creation of the ad," Burton said.

The firm is under contract with Obama's campaign. Joe Rospars, a founding partner of Blue State Digital, is on leave from the company and serves as new-media director for Obama. In a statement by Blue State Digital managing partner Thomas Gensemer, the company sought to distance itself from de Vellis, saying he made the video on his own time and without management's knowledge.

The velocity of the controversy highlights the new rules that govern campaigns in the 21st century. On March 5, the ad -- a biting takeoff of Apple's famous "1984" Super Bowl commercial -- was posted on YouTube by someone calling himself "ParkRidge47" (Clinton was born in Park Ridge, Ill., in 1947). The sunglasses-clad man who appeared on a large video screen in the original was replaced by Clinton's image and voice.

By the time de Vellis revealed himself, the clip had been viewed nearly 1.6 million times.

Gingrich Chides Democrats on War

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R) said Democrats in Congress are "deliberately sabotaging" President Bush's effort is Iraq while "hiding behind the process," something he called "a fundamental disservice to the country."

"My argument is if they want to end the war, then take the responsibility," Gingrich said during a lunchtime discussion with Washington Post editors and reporters. "If it's a disaster after you end it, you own it. If it's a brilliant success after you end it, you own it."

Gingrich, who is flirting with the idea of running for president next year, also decried what he said is a federal government that has been transformed into an ineffective bureaucracy that is unable to deal with big challenges such as the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, economic competition with China and improving public schools.

"We have tolerated ourselves becoming a muscle-bound, red-tape-ridden bureaucratic society," he said, noting that a personal review he conducted in early 2005 of the Iraq war effort convinced him that "the machine [of government] just doesn't work."

Gingrich said he would decide whether to run for president after conducting a late-September seminar aimed at finding consensus answers to the nation's problems. His organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, reported raising $1,053,900 in February.


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