Presidential candidate Chris Dodd has hired a traveling blogger to write and videblog his campaign trips in real time. While candidates typically travel with a retinue of advisers, spokespersons and "body" aides, this may be the first traveling blogger in presidential campaign history.
The blogger, Matt Browner Hamlin, has written for websites such as The Huffington Post and Connecticut's MyLeftNutmeg, but this is his first campaign job. He was an active volunteer supporter of Ned Lamont, the Greenwich businessman whose netroots-powered campaign defeated Connecticut's other Senator, Joe Lieberman, in a primary last year. Browner Hamlin will join another Lamont enthusiast, Tim Tagaris, who runs Dodd's Internet strategy and previously worked for the Lamont Campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Dodd was impressed by innovation and impact of Internet activists in his state, and his campaign has experimented online more than most of his competitors. The official website already offers behind the scenes videos, like senior staff discussing the recent debate and shots of Dodd backstage at The Daily Show, and Browner Hamlin says he will provide enough video and blogging from the trail to make the campaign "transparent in real time." The Dodd Campaign also relaunched its website today and it is planning a large Internet ad buy.
Writing as an independent blogger, Browner Hamlin has lamented how serious "issue candidates" like Dodd and Bill Richardson were unfairly ignored by both the mainstream media and the netroots:
I think it's really sad that the one place where all candidates should be given a fair shake based on what they've done and what they stand for -- the blogosphere -- has fully adopted the same conventional wisdom that is put forth by people like Chris Mathews, Adam Nagourney, and the staff of The Politico. Namely, that the Democrats have a three person race between Clinton, Obama, and Edwards and no one else stands a chance [...] Bill Clinton and Howard Dean succeeded because grassroots activists took them seriously when the mainstream press did not. I find it sad that this cycle the grassroots, particularly grassroots pundits on the blogs, has shown no real willingness to part ways from the mainstream press assessment of who is viable and who is not. If the second tier candidate - the issue candidate - is dead, it is we who have killed it.
The Dodd Campaign was smart to tap a true believer who challenges the conventional wisdom in the blogs and the papers, even if he's never worked on a campaign before. Dodd is not "second tier" on the issues; his policies on Iraq, human rights and energy are some of the boldest and most thoughtful in the entire field. A travelling blogger might just press others to cover that substance, or disintermediate the entire horse-race framework so that voters can judge for themselves. ---- Ari Melber writes for The Nation's Campaign Matters, where this post first appeared.