If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean should be pleased. Following Dean’s lead, President Bush has launched his own online e-campaign. Dean’s Web site, which proved to be an extremely sucessful tool in campaign fundraising, helped to launch him into the leading positition in the second quarter campaign fundraising race. Perhaps hoping for similar results, Bush has created his very own “grassroots” (read: copycat) Web site.
Bush’s new site offers his tech-savvy constituents an array of “grassroots” tools, like downloadable Bush-Cheney ’04 screensavers and web buttons, and — for all you bloggers out there — a free downloadable George W. Bush news ticker. Bush’s ticker can spoon-feed your weblog with the latest and greatest Bush Administration press releases — don’t let your readers miss exciting announcements like “Bush-Cheney ’04 Launches Grassroots Action Web site”! And those in need of heart-warming desktop images on your PC can download free Bush “compassion” wallpaper, which features our leader chumming it up with young women of color wearing matching yellow T-shirts and looking mildly uncomfortable.
According to Talon News Bush e-Campaign Manager Chuck DeFeo hopes the site will provide Bush supporters with “the tools that they need to help spread the President’s message“:
“‘The whole website is built around taking the issue-specific information that people were saying they were looking for and connecting that with the grassroots tools that the Internet provides them to help spread the President’s message and to become a part of this campaign.’
The backbone of the grassroots effort the site aims to encourage is the ‘Bush Team Leader’ service, modeled on the GOP’s own successful ‘GOP Team Leader’ newsletter and grassroots service. Bush Team Leader is more tightly organized, however, providing updates on a number of common-denominator interests like national security, the economy, and the environment, while also offering membership in ‘coalition groups’ like Hispanic and Pro-Life.
Bush’s e-campaign strategists have also made a first attempt at reaching out to the tech-savvy market which has been dominated by presidential hopeful Howard Dean.”
The sudden interest in the “tech-savvy market” and tools for “grassroots activists” is also presumably a play for their cash, an attempt to bring in yet more contributions to Bush’s already lucrative campaign. Once again, it sure has worked for Dean. Liz Marlantes writing for The Christian Science Monitor notes how online campaign fundraising allowed Dean to reach out to smaller donors and to recruit a devoted following:
“While candidates have been fundraising via the Internet for some time, this year’s contenders are taking the online money hunt to new levels, using technology to generate support in far more creative — and central — ways.
The new techniques are already playing a significant role in shaping the Democratic primary battle, getting more ordinary citizens involved earlier and shifting influence from big to small donors. If the trend continues, observers say it could transform the entire political process.
The leading figure in all this is former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who, through a network of websites and blogs, has cultivated a devoted Internet following that helped him beat out other Democratic contenders in last quarter’s fundraising totals.”
With Bush’s popularity in the polls is slipping slowly, his site may be an opportunity for him to tap into the pool of online voters — and their pool of individual donations.