Democrats add blogs to campaign efforts

WASHINGTON: The race for the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination appears to have been invaded by blogs.

WASHINGTON: The race for the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination appears to have been invaded by blogs.

Weblogs or "blogs," are a recent internet trend where people maintain a personal website on which they muse about whatever topic they wish. Many blogs are about politics, and are updated quite frequently.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D) credited much of his early fundraising success (he leads in donations thus far) to the blog on his campaign website and those of his supporters.

In reaction, at least two other candidates, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) have now added blogs to their sites.

Some point out that none of the candidates are actually writing their own blogs, which leads some to conclude they aren't blogs at all. Instead, a group of campaign staffers maintains them all, and the blogs are often indistinguishable from campaign rhetoric.

"Blog content is typically edgy and has a very personal voice," said Doug Hattaway, communications director for Al Gore's 2000 Presidential campaign. "Web audiences are pretty skeptical about content, so the trick for these campaigns is not to let their blogs sound like they're overly packaged. No one's going to pass around a blog that sounds like it's been approved by the consultant."

However, Hattaway concedes that handing even a trusted campaign worker the right to freely opine in the public domain is anathema to campaign common sense.

"There's a lot of risk that someone's going to say the wrong thing. That's where they get nervous," he offered.

But political blog enthusiasts, such as the youth-oriented action network 20/20 Democrats, applaud the move.

"I think if they're using them to get people involved and to motivate them, to get young voters to mobilize on behalf of the campaign and get things done, then I think they're using them for the right reasons," said Paul Andrew, a member of 20/20's executive committee.

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