Political aides convene to tout importance of Web

Political Web strategists met with a GW political communication class Friday to discuss the Internet’s link to politics and possible changes in the future.

The panel discussion was organized by adjunct professors Steve Rabinowitz and Laura Quinn, political media advisers to President Bill Clinton and Al Gore. The event drew Web strategists from Web sites of presidential candidates Bill Bradley and John McCain, Senate candidate Hillary Clinton, Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Democratic National Committee.

Both Lynn Reed, manager of BillBradley2000.com and Chris Casey, whose company produces Web sites for both Clinton and Kennedy, told the audience of about 50 people that the Internet is no longer the gimmick it once was.

In 1994, people were impressed when you said you had a Web site, Casey said. Now it’s expected.

Max Fose, the treasurer and Web producer for McCain’s campaign, discussed his strategy in designing an interactive Web site for McCain.

The Web is no longer simply an electronic bulletin board, he said.

The panelists said political candidates differ in the ways they use the Internet in campaigns. Fose said McCain is closely involved with the everyday running of the Web site, while Reed said Bradley’s involvement is limited to checking the issue section periodically.

McCain will call from the road and ask if a speech is on the Web, Fose said.

The panelists discussed the Internet’s increasing importance in political campaigns.

The fundamental goal of every campaign Web site is to succeed into changing their computer into a tool to help your campaign, Casey said.

One of the goals of political Web sites is to increase communication while lowering costs, the panelists said.

We look at the Internet as a way to save money, Reed said. We send electronic press releases in order to save postage, and we use e-mail instead of the phone.

Linda Sinoway, the Web master for the Democratic National Convention, said she has different goals for her site.

(With a Web site) we can provide information on candidates without being filtered by the media, she said.

While she said her basic job description is to help candidates get their campaigns online, Sinoway said the DNC Web site also provides a central place for Democratic activists to find political news. She cited a section of her site called the GOP Watch as an example of a place where voters can find the truth about Republican candidates.

Sinoway said the Internet and major news networks will play a large role in upcoming elections.

Everyone thinks about ways to improve (the Web site), and everyone plugs it, Reed said.

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