Politicians using video to talk
[PoliticsWatch updated 5:40 p.m., January 22, 2007]
|Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama took to the
Web this week.
OTTAWA — Over
the past seven days three serious contenders for the White House
took the first major step to enter the presidential race.
But not one of them held a press conference to announce their
Instead the three contenders -- Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack
Obama and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson -- all made
their announcements to launch exploratory committees via videos
posted on their Web sites and later on YouTube.
It appears that the days of a presidential hopeful making the
announcement on the steps outside his hometown elementary school
while a large pack of reporters and camera crews capture the moment
will soon be a thing of the past.
All three Democratic candidates who entered the race this week opted
instead to use motion picture quality videos which make them appear
And to make things even better, there were no pesky reporters around
to ask them embarrassing questions that could cloud their big
The first major candidate to jump into the race was John Edwards who
held a more traditional campaign photo-op launch surrounded by
Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans.
But on Tuesday, Obama raised the bar.
Obama's campaign posted
a video message on the candidate's Web site and it quickly made
its way onto YouTube.
Not only did Obama use the video to control the message, he made it
clear that the video itself was the message and he was appealing
directly to voters without the media.
"I believe in you," said Obama, who has been crossing the
country and meeting people over the past few months. "And that's why I wanted to tell you first that I'll be filing papers today to create a presidential exploratory committee."
So Obama was telling the voter's first, not the media. Ordinary
people were getting the big scoop, not the White House Press gang.
The irony, of course, is most voters probably found out about
Obama's video through the media.
On Saturday morning, Clinton tried to out do Obama by announcing her
exploratory committee bid via a video
posted on her Website.
"I'm in," Clinton's site
Clinton's video was even better than Obama's production quality wise
with the camera slowly moving and a wide shot and close
In addition, Clinton made the announcement sitting on a sofa in a
living room that looked like it could be on the cover of Better
Homes and Gardens.
Clinton appeared more like someone who was launching an afternoon
talk show than a presidential bid.
And the special guest on that talk show, of course, would be the
"I'm not just starting a campaign though," Clinton explained.
"I'm beginning a conversation with you."
"So let's talk. Let's chat. Let's start a dialogue about your ideas and mine because the conversation in Washington has been just a little one-sided lately, don't you think. And we can all see how well that works."
Again Clinton, who has lived in Washington for the better part of
the last 15 years, used language similar to Obama's to appear like a
Washington doesn't have the answers to all the problems America is
facing. You, the voter, do, according to Clinton.
And to prove it, Clinton is holding a series of live video Web chats
this week on her Website
allowing voters to ask her questions live, making the phone-in
portion of Larry King Live obsolete. The first Web cast begins at 7
p.m. ET on Monday.
On Sunday, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson became the third
candidate to announce his bid via
However, Richardson, unlike the other two Dems, didn't dedicate his
video to you the voter, but rather gave a straightforward pitch for
why he is qualified to be president.
Richardson seemed to have confused YouTube with MeTube.
The New Mexico governor won't be hold Web chats or having a
"I believe these serious times demand serious people who have real world experience in solving the
challenges we face," he said.
While he may not want to have a chat with you, Richardson does have
a permanent YouTube presence. On Sunday his campaign created a page
on YouTube called Richardson4President,
where the campaign has posted his launch speech and other existing
YouTube videos featuring Richardson.
So in the early days of the 2008 presidential election, it appears
that technology such as Web video and YouTube will play a major role
and could permanently change the way candidates get their message
While the three Dems successfully bipassed the media to launch their
bid the media wasn't sulking. In fact, the use of the Web made the
campaign launches receive even greater exposure due to the novelty
of it all.
"The already-underway 2008 presidential campaign is likely to be remembered as the point where Web video became central to the communications strategy of every serious presidential
candidate," the Washington Post concluded in a story on
And the trend will likely spill over to Canada in the near
YouTube played a minor, but growing, role in the Liberal leadership
And Prime Minister Stephen Harper never misses an opportunity
to bypass the Ottawa Press Gallery, often making major policy
announcements in various cities outside the capital or appealing
directly to voters.
So it's not surprising that last month the PMO
created a page on YouTube.
The page is in its infancy with only French and English versions of
the PM's Christmas and New Year's messages posted.
"Canada's New Government is committed to communicating with Canadians at
every opportunity we have," Sandra Buckler, director of
communications for the prime minister, told PoliticsWatch.
"YouTube provides a great opportunity for Canadians to access and share
messages directly from the prime minister - encouraging participation in
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