Sharpening Online Tools for 2012


Coverage Type: reporting
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The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20500, United States

As part of President Obama’s plan to rebuild the grass-roots movement that propelled him to the White House, he took to YouTube this week to urge his 19.3 million Facebook friends to join him, and invite others, for a town-hall-style chat on Facebook April 20 with Mark Zuckerberg, the social media site’s chief executive, at his side. By Tuesday afternoon, more than 22,000 people had signed up. It is all part of Obama’s re-election effort to use social media and other online tools to galvanize supporters.

But unlike in the last presidential campaign, Republicans are better prepared to compete online in the 2012 contest. “The notion that the Internet was owned by liberals, owned by the left in the wake of the Obama victory, has been proven false,” said Patrick Ruffini, a Republican political online strategist who is now advising the exploratory campaign of Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, after working as a digital adviser to President George W. Bush’s campaign in 2004 and later to the Republican National Committee. During last year’s midterm elections, Republicans caught up with Democrats in using technology and social networks, and now many Republicans elected to the House and Senate are using these tools more than Democrats, according to several political and technology experts.

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