John McCain's campaign launched a spiffy new blog on Friday, stepping up an effort to catch up to Barack Obama's web dominance. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds sent reporters a statement hitting several Internet priorities:
The blog will offer a fresh perspective and will include quotes, the candidate's schedule and photos not available anywhere else. As a part of our continual effort to reach voters, allow unprecedented access and bring greater transparency to American politics, our blog 'The McCain Report' will provide a sounding board for all.
The first two posts are cheeky. Michael Goldfarb, a campaign blogger and former Weekly Standard reporter, tells readers the blog almost sported a lime-green decor, and tweaks Obama for being "so changey." (Is "changey" the new flip-flop? I hope not.) The McCain campaign has always trailed Obama in online campaigning, lagging in fundraising, social networking, list-building and YouTube outreach, but it has repeatedly tried to engage the Internet community on its own terms. Conservative bloggers talk directly with the candidate via regular conference calls, which is more access than any Democratic candidate ever provided the (larger) liberal blogosphere. The McCain campaign's official sites are also open to commentators of all stripes, providing a more open dialogue than Hillary Clinton's websites, as The Nation documented in March.
Activists who post comments across the cyber-aisle can even earn "points through the McCain Online Action Center." Just compare that to the last presidential election, when the Democratic nominee stripped its link to DailyKos, the largest Democratic hub online, after a single controversial post appeared on the site. It was "Reject and Denounce 1.0." Four years later, liberal blogs are so embedded in national politics that even the Republican nominee is trying to engage them.