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Obama to announce VP choice via text message

Text by Apoorva PRASAD

Latest update : 2008-11-01

US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s choice of running mate for the November elections will be announced to the world via e-mails and text messages to those who’ve signed up.

Read the Observers' "Obama the Antichrist"

 

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign plays just like a Hollywood blockbuster.

The name of the Democratic vice-presidential candidate will be announced directly via e-mail to anyone who has signed up - supporters and the curious - on his website, barackobama.com, or via text message on cell phones. 

Visitors to Barack Obama’s official campaign website will hit a splash screen that states simply: “Who will be Barack’s VP? Be the first to know”, and then asks for their e-mail address and (US) zip code.

“The Obama campaign has demonstrated a very shrewd usage of technology”, “showing innovation” and getting people “excited”, says Andrew Rasiej, co-founder of TechPresident, a New York-based group blog that covers the influence of the Internet and new media in the 2008 presidential campaign.

During pre-release hype, films attract a following through so-called “viral” campaigns, which include websites, games, teaser campaigns, cell phone ringtones, wallpapers and more – exactly what Obama’s online team, run by a 27-year old and which includes a Facebook co-founder, does.

“But it’s far more than that,” continued Rasiej, “they’re building a massive database of their supporters which allows them to contact them in the medium of their choice.”

The viral-style VP candidate announcement also allows the Democrat’s campaign to create a database of potential voters, and pepper them with pro-Obama messages during the run-up to November’s elections.

Obama’s campaign has used technology to gain supporters at a grassroots level, in a fundamentally different way from Clinton’s or, now, McCain’s. The Democrat, as befits his younger age and generation, has been seen with two cell phones and a Blackberry personal digital assistant simultaneously. The older McCain has admitted often that he didn’t really use the Internet or check e-mail, until he was shown how by staffers.

What Obama’s tech-friendly VP candidate announcement does is also raise donations through the Internet. After clicking through, visitors reach a screen that asks for an online contribution, through a helpful check-box form to fill out (up to a regulations-specified $2,300). Those less net-sure can mail in a cheque instead.

On the donation form on Obama’s website, it is clearly mentioned that he does not accept contributions from special interest groups such as lobbyists for industries.

His grassroots campaign has certainly succeeded. He has so far received 130 million dollars in donations from two million people, and a large chunk of it comes from web users.

Date created : 2008-08-21

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