Huffpost Media

PWR 2 The PPL: Obama's Text-Message VP Gambit

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Were you wondering about the Veepstakes, and who Barack Obama would finally choose to be his running mate? Well, fear not — because YOU can be the first to know! The first, that is, along with millions of other supporters who sign up to receive a super-special text message from the campaign, wherein Obama will announce the name of his choice.

That's right, Obama is announcing his VP via text message — not via leak to a trusted MSM source, not in an editorial in the venerable New York Times, not in a sit-down with a Big Three anchorperson, not even in an eleventh-hour blog post on a wildly popular news-and-opinion site. Instead, he's doing a total end-run around traditional media and breaking some very big news directly to The People.

He's also, as Garrett Graff smartly points out in today's NYT, making a savvy play for phone numbers to add to his contact list:

The move should add thousands -- and more likely tens or hundreds of thousands -- of cellphone numbers to what is already one of the most detailed political databases ever created....

This fall, Mr. Obama's use of text messages could reinvent the get-out-the-vote machines used by American political campaigns just as his fund-raising from online donors upended the Clintons, who many thought controlled the most powerful Democratic money machine ever built.

On Nov. 4, the Democratic nominee will need more than dollars from small donors equipped with credit cards and Internet access. He'll need a crowd -- a big one. That's why he wants your cellphone number.

Graff also makes the point that John "I Don't Use Computers Or The Google" McCain has done a pitiful job of tapping new technologies for outreach; Politico's Jonathan Martin noted last month that the GOP was "losing the new media war" as its counterparts on the left took advantage of new platforms to circulate information.

Meanwhile, Obama has been savvy about using the internet from the start — recall that in January 2007 he announced his plans to throw his hat in the presidential ring via a video on his site, which bypassed the usual messengers — and their editing — to deliver the message directly to the audience.

Is the notion of announcing the VP nominee via text message a gimmick? Sure — but it's one that's already working, generating discussion and highlighting once again how savvy the Obama campaign has been about getting the word out, reaching new people, and using the latest technology (always helpul for change!). It's also a fun nose-thumb at the media — screw you, messenger, I don't need you! — which the kids always tend to love (even if they are conveniently forgetting how useful the media was in, say, March 2008 when Obama needed to mount a swift response. As I recall, the media was very useful indeed during the week of March 18th).

But mostly, it's smart politics — combining direct outreach to voters which involves them in the process and speaks to them directly with soliciting their information for future fundraising and getting out the vote. It's yet another reason why Obama's campaign masterminds have proven themselves so damn effective this election cycle — and just might be ROTFL come November.

Text The Vote [NYT]

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