The following is from the Jan. 22, 2007, edition of The Toronto Globe and Mail.

For Democrat hopefuls, Web is way


New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson called himself an underdog, but he looked like the serious statesman yesterday as he sat in his office wearing a snappy suit as he announced -- in English and Spanish -- his plan to make a run for the White House.

When Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was nestled on a comfy couch with family photos nearby, offered the same pronouncement the day before, she seemed approachable as she asked to "chat" with Americans.

And a few weeks back, when John Edwards kicked off his U.S. presidential bid, he appeared more like a gritty correspondent than a former senator in his khaki shirt, sleeves unbuttoned, while, behind him, children helped rebuild a house ravaged by hurricane Katrina.

Forget news releases, summoning the press and hitting the talk-show circuit in the lead-up to the 2008 presidential election. The Democrats are taking their carefully choreographed images directly to the computers of the American voters. If the medium is the message, the Democrats are using the Internet to bypass the news media.

"You can do your announcement any way you want," said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "But you've got to get in and fight the sharks -- both the press and the other candidates -- in order to win this thing." . . .

"Somebody needs to tell the Republicans about the Internet. . . ." Prof. Jillson said. "The Republicans are still scared of BlackBerries."

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