Obama, Text Me Your VP Pick!

Democrats and pundits wait anxiously for a message about Obama's veep pick.


Aug. 22, 2008 — -- It's perhaps the most highly anticipated text message in presidential campaign history -- and it will likely come within the next 24 hours.

Who is Barack Obama's vice presidential pick? So far, the campaign has kept it a well-guarded secret despite a media frenzy in trying to be first with the news.

With the Obama campaign promising supporters that they'll be the first to know via text message or e-mail alert, some say they're keeping their PDAs close at hand and their cell phones charged.

"I feel like I'm checking my BlackBerry every 10 seconds," said Shayn Prapaisilp, 20, a George Washington University student who is home visiting his family in St. Louis.

Prapaisilp said he's flying to Washington, D.C., tonight and will check his cell phone for a text the minute he lands. "Someone's going to break it first," he predicted, "so I'm hoping I'll be in front of my TV or be able to access some sort of medium where I can access it."

Others are getting sick of the waiting -- and the rampant VP speculation of political pundits and reporters.

"I'm checking for the message often but have stopped listening to the guesses du jour," said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington. "It has become like waiting for the birth of a baby that is 10 days overdue."

With the news media working themselves into a lather this week trying to figure out who and when, it could be sweet revenge to some voters to know that political reporters, too, are anxiously awaiting the text and e-mail.

"I have been rather tied to my electronic devices, and it's made me a little loopy," Slate chief political correspondent John Dickerson told ABCNews.com. "I have slightly spotty cell service where I am, so I've hired some summer interns to light a series of warning fires along the distance between good cell service and my current location."

Dickerson said that thanks to a few false starts, his system has been thoroughly tested and he's confident he'll get the message.

"When the senator sends out his message I should know rather quickly and I'll be able to fearlessly engage in drawing sweeping conclusions instantly," Dickerson joked.

Obama's pick is such a closely guarded secret that the campaign has refused to tell ABCNews.com how many people have signed up for the VP alert.

The McCain campaign, which has attempted to deride Obama as a "celebrity" offered this shot at the anticipated text and e-mail alert: "I hope his fans know you can't text-vote for president like you can for 'American Idol,'" Michael Palmer, McCain's eCampaign director, told ABCNews.com.

Iowa voter Diana Van Zee, 59, heard about the Obama campaign's e-mail but didn't sign up for an alert.

"I'm still really undecided," she said, "and I'm not that much into it that I need to be the first to know."

The anticipated e-mail and text announcement has spawned an online hoax effort.

ABC News' Jake Tapper reports an email sent to an ABC colleague today read: "Dear supporters..I said you would be the first to know, and you are -- I have selected Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine as my running mate!" The hoax email's subject line is "My Vice President" and it is signed simply: "Barack."

The Wonkette Web site posted a step-by-step manual from a reader on how to send fake cell phone text messages under the headline: "Freak Out Your Friends With Fake Obama VP TXT."

There have been reports of fake Obama texts and e-mails with announcements that Obama has chosen Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh -- a legitimate contender -- and not so legitimate contenders including gold medalist Michael Phelps, Mickey Mouse and even singer Rick Astley.

Online Democrats are outpacing wired Republicans in signing up for campaign e-mails and texts and donating money online, largely because more tech-savvy young people are Democrats, according to the latest survey by the nonpartisan Pew Center Internet and American Life Project.

The survey found 46 percent of Americans are using the Internet, e-mail or phone text messages for political purposes in this election -- up dramatically from the 2004 election.

However, the survey found that only 4 percent of all adults are sending or receiving text messages about the campaign or other political issues on a regular basis. And the people who are using e-mail and text messages to get political information tend to be younger, and have higher levels of income and education.

So despite the high-tech priority the Obama campaign is putting into place, more Americans are likely to hear the news first from the traditional media outlets.

"One thing that's certain is that the minute that the blast e-mail, or the blast text message comes out, instantly it will be publicized through the mainstream news media," said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Center Internet and American Life Project, "so it's not something like people are going to have a lot of extra time advantage by learning it this way."

Prapaisilp, an Obama supporter from the beginning, said he just wants the waiting to be over.

"I just really want to know so I can get into the whole mindset of the general election," he said.

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