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Posted by on May 16, 2008 in At TMV | 0 comments

The Bloggers Invited to Question John McCain

It’s worth putting up the last half of the Washington Times article referenced in my previous post. McCain’s choice of bloggers is intense and interesting. Many of the bloggers are hard workers who have given over a significant part of their lives to feeding the maw. No small thing. For sure, it’s never been for the pay.

And, AHEM, Senator McCain, The Moderate Voice would like to be invited to be in on your blogger phone calls too. Feel free to contact us. Joe Gandelman is our Editor in Chief. For that matter, we’re interested in being in on any candidate’s blogger phone call/ news inquires. And we also have a number of thoughtful and passionate male and female bloggers here. (End of ‘Squeaky Wheel Appeal’ for now.)

And, here below, from Stephen Dinan’s writing at the Washington Times:

“The plan is to take the work we’ve already built on with conservative bloggers and to open up a dialogue with non-conservative bloggers and even nonpolitical bloggers,” said Patrick Hynes, Mr. McCain’s point man for blog outreach.

“We hope to be the most accessible and transparent campaign in history, to take advantage of what we think is one of the campaign’s strongest assets, which is Senator McCain himself, and frankly to empower voters who are also bloggers to get the answers they need to decide who to vote for.”

A call last week focused on Mr. McCain’s health care plans. Top McCain advisers talked with health-care-specific bloggers and sites that cater to mothers, a demographic that the campaign figured would be interested in health care issues. The campaign also deployed adviser Carly Fiorina, former chief executive officer of Hewlett-Packard, to talk with major health site WebMD’s reporter.

Democrats have had success with online fundraising, but conservative and liberal bloggers said Mr. McCain’s outreach to them puts the Republican presidential nominee far ahead of his Democratic counterparts in getting out information.

David All, a blogger who also runs Slatecard.com, a site that channels online contributions to Republican candidates, said reaching bloggers is not about mass communication, but about reaching opinion leaders who are likely to help shape others’ opinions. By taking that beyond the political and into the policy areas, Mr. McCain is tapping a wide-open market.

“They are the experts in understanding health care policy, and they are the ones who will get beyond the first two bullet points of a health care debate,” Mr. All said. “Everyone who’s reading the health care blogs, the first sentence they’re going to see is something to the effect of, look, I don’t agree with everything in this plan, but I just got off the phone with John McCain, and now here are my more-informed thoughts on the plan.”

Those who follow blogging said the McCain campaign will have to pick and choose whom to invite to conference calls, arguing that some sites won’t treat Mr. McCain fairly.

“I don’t think the people at DailyKos

are going to treat John McCain mercifully, but I think the fact that people get their question heard makes them dial it back a bit,” said Soren Dayton, a blogger who worked briefly for the McCain campaign and now works at a public affairs company, New Media Strategies.

Going forward, Mr. Hynes said, the campaign would like to have Mr. McCain talk to sports bloggers, too, as a way to “humanize John McCain as something other than a carbon-copy politician running for office, delivering talking points.”

On yesterday’s call, Mr. McCain fielded seven questions, including three from non-conservative bloggers: Kate Sheppard, political reporter for environmental Web site Grist.org; Joanne Bamberger of PunditMom (http://punditmom1. blogspot.com); and Erin Kotecki Vest, who blogs at catchall site BlogHer.com as well as liberal sites HuffingtonPost.com and MOMocrats.com.

“I give them an A for effort,” Ms. Vest said in a phone interview after the conference call.

She asked Mr. McCain whether the vision he laid out yesterday of U.S. troops succeeding in Iraq by 2013 didn’t amount to the sort of timetable he has criticized when Democrats propose a specific date for withdrawal.

Mr. McCain shot right back: “Either you didn’t read or didn’t understand my speech. One of the two.”

Ms. Vest said she “read it and understood it just fine, and I don’t understand how 2013 isn’t a date.”

She said she doesn’t expect bloggers to be as nice as some of the traditional media have been in asking him questions, and was thankful for the chance.

“The fact that I could ask my question and have it smacked down is farther than a lot of people could get,” she said.

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