Candidates Blaze the Campaign Trail ... Online

ByABC News
February 8, 2007, 9:26 PM

Feb 9, 2007 — -- Blogs, podcast, Web video -- these and other Internet technologies have fast become must-have political tools for the 2008 presidential candidates -- and campaigns without them are scrambling to catch up.

With an increasing number of Americans saying they get their political news and information from the Internet, and broadband spreading across remote communities, a number of contenders are vying for voters and the White House on the Web.

Examples are popping up on the Internet faster than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's Facebook profile.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., launched her first lady turned first candidate campaign with a Web video and a series of three live, online "conversations" with voters.

Log on to Sen. Barack Obama's, D-Ill., Web site and you're one click from the political wunderkind's latest podcast: "Today I want to talk a little bit about the war in Iraq."

It's a sign that multiple White House wannabes are taking the Internet seriously.

Joe Trippi, campaign manager of then-Gov. Howard Dean's 2004 campaign, told ABC News that campaigns that do not harness the power of the Internet "are going to get crushed."

Widely credited for running a campaign fueled by online donations and volunteers, Trippi said, "we were out and the other campaigns were laughing at us." He explained that only three years ago, "using the Internet for political purposes was thought to be ridiculous."

Trippi credited a Republican -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. -- for raising several million with an Internet campaign.

"Now, all of the campaigns recognize the importance of the Internet," Trippi said. "No one's going to get a big head start or big lead this time around," he said, predicting Clinton's campaign will raise a record amount.

Trippi said another big difference between the 2004 campaign and the 2008 campaign is the availability of online video and the proliferation of blogs.

"These campaigns, the technology is right there waiting for them to use it," said Trippi.

Clinton Reconnects Online

Many of the campaigns appear to be taking a note from the Trippi campaign book, and are revving up major Internet operations.

"The awareness in the political world of the online community has evolved," said Peter Daou, Internet director for the Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y. campaign.

"The Internet adds a whole new layer to the political campaign," said Daou, who blogs for and Huffington Post, and ran the Sen. John Kerry 2004 campaign Web site.