Unity08 goes online in push for White House

WASHINGTON: Unity08, an Internet-based effort to nominate and elect a bipartisan presidential ticket in 2008, launched a media drive February 6 to sign up delegates for an online convention planned sometime in the first half of next year.

WASHINGTON: Unity08, an Internet-based effort to nominate and elect a bipartisan presidential ticket in 2008, launched a media drive February 6 to sign up delegates for an online convention planned sometime in the first half of next year.

Highlighted by appearances by actor Sam Waterston on Hardball on MSNBC, CNN, XM Radio, and elsewhere, outreach for the sign-up effort also involved various members of the group's "founders council" - which includes Carter administration White House chief of staff Hamilton Jordan, Howard Dean's 2004 Internet strategist Nicco Mele, and The Hotline founder Doug Bailey - talking with media outlets around the country.

Though the outreach to traditional media is important, Shane Kinkennon, Unity08 communications director, said long-term work to sign up supporters will focus on "viral" communications in which supporters participate in blogs and social networking sites, all with the aim of generating traffic to the Web site, www.unity08.com.

Founded in May 2006, the group seeks to tap into what it says is widespread dissatisfaction among US voters with political partisanship and a presidential election process in which candidates tend to curry favor with either extreme left- or right-wing special interests. Delegates to the group will eventually formulate a political agenda, accept nominations for candidates, and select a ticket that the group will help get on election ballots in all 50 states.

"If you do surveys, polls, or just talk to people in the grocery, most people are fed up with the current state of American politics - the partisanship, the blaming, the maneuvering for position and money," said former Gov. Angus King (I-ME), another founding member. "The tough part is, we're trying to rally people around an idea [and] a concept, as opposed to a candidate or an issue. That is a tall order."

King and others stressed that the group does not aim to become a permanent political party, but simply to push the overall political dynamic to the "center," so that the Republican and Democratic parties will at least in the future strive to become more mainstream in their appeal.

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