Monday, January 22, 2007

Giuliani Hires E-Campaign Expert

(from my fav, "The Fix")

Giuliani Hires E-Campaign Expert

As Dan Balz and I wrote in today's Post, presidential candidates on both sides are focused heavily on bolstering their Internet presence through a variety of new tools, including video, podcasts and even online video chats.

To brainstorm and implement these new innovations, the campaigns are chasing after a small group of people in their 20s and early 30s versed in the language of the new media.

One of the real "gets" on the GOP side of that world is Patrick Ruffini, who served as the Web master of President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign and then served in a similar role at the Republican National Committee. Ruffini gained recognition in national Republican circles for his blog, which was one of the first serious attempts on the Republican side at building an online community.

Ruffini has signed on with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign as an e-campaign adviser. The hiring is only the latest sign that Giuliani is serious about a run for national office in 2008.

In building a national staff, Giuliani has recruited a number of former Bush operatives to his cause -- the latest being Brent Seaborn, who will be the director of strategy for the campaign. Seaborn was intimately involved in the microtargeting efforts credited with growing the number of Republican votes for Bush in 2004. Seaborn was a co-founder of TargetPoint Consulting, which specialized in microtargeting and data mining.

In his new role on the Giuliani campaign, Seaborn will be tasked with the construction of a consulting team -- from picking the pollster and the media consultant to organizing the direct-mail operation. As The Fix has noted before, the major gap in Giuliani's political team at the moment is in the consulting world. In past races he has used Adam Goodman for media and Frank Luntz as his pollster, but the hiring of Seaborn -- and his job description -- would seem to suggest that Hizzoner is on the hunt for a new team.

As for campaigning online, Giuliani is far from the only candidate to recognize the opportunities and perils of the Web. Sen. John McCain's campaign employs a videographer who records many his political speeches; former Gov. Mitt Romney (R) has several staffers tasked with monitoring the blogging world and a video team on retainer to tape and produce segments like like these.

Democrats, too, are deeply invested in Web video and other technological advances. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), and Barack Obama (Ill.) and former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) each announced their campaign plans via video, and all three campaigns are putting special emphasis on building a Web presence. Clinton will host the first in a series of online chats tonight at 7 p.m ET.

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