John McCain's low comfort level with the Internet, a technology familiar to 73 percent of American adults, poses a political problem for his campaign and exacerbates mostly unspoken concerns about his age. It also contains an element of irony: In 2000, he was buoyed by pioneering online fundraising efforts.
"The whole thing is flabbergasting to me," said Joe Trippi, the Democratic consultant who served as the campaign manager for the 2004 Howard Dean campaign that was the first to become wildly successful at raising money and support online.
"McCain's 2000 campaign was so tech-savvy that it scared me. It was the whole reason I started focusing on the tech stuff for the Democrats," Trippi said.
Now, though, McCain is battling the impression that he's an Internet "illiterate." When Politico's Mike Allen asked him in January whether he uses a Mac or PC, the candidate replied, "I am an illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance that I can get." Since, he's taken to Macs, become a student of the contemporary, blog-driven media cycle, and become a reader -- if not yet a writer -- of e-mail.
In interviews with Politico, techies offered a range of solutions to turn around the image of the tech-challenged Republican, and implored him to stop talking about computers, and start showing that he uses them.