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"Bird dogging" Presidential Candidates

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 By Dick Layman/Eric Mack, Contact
March 12, 2007

As usual, the Iowa caucuses will play a big role in the upcoming race for president, and the growing use of the internet is changing the campaign. And it's not just the candidates -- voters are also discovering ways to get involved online. An example is the new "Bird-Dogging Blog" created by Iowans for Sensible Priorities. Volunteers attend candidate campaign stops, ask questions, and post reports and pictures on the blog. Jessica Maass helped set up the site.

"We are having a blog on our Web site where we post what the candidates are saying, where they stand on the issue, and we are tracking them to monitor their progress and see if they are shifting their views."

The blog highlights candidates' answers to questions about budget priorities, such as shifting money from outdated weapons systems to things like health care, education, energy independence, job training and deficit reduction. Maass says the Web site,, also includes a calendar of Iowa campaign appearances.

Maass says there are already candidate responses on the blog from former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson and Governor Bill Richardson. She says the blog could be of particular importance if the candidates begin to rely more on the internet at the expense of personal appearances.

"For some candidates, it's actually decreasing the amount of time they are actually coming to the state, because they do have this new vehicle to talk to their constituents."

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