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"Bird-Dogs" Prepare for Summer Campaigners

May 29, 2007

Concord, NH - New Hampshire's bird-dogs - the voters dogging presidential candidates for straight answers on the issues - are gearing up for the summer campaigning season. Combining lobbying with citizen journalism, they're out to make sure the rest of the country knows what the campaigns are saying in New Hampshire. Comments from Arnie Alpert of the American Friends Service Committee, a bird-dog organizer.

The unofficial start of summer means the presidential candidates will soon be coming out in force, and a new breed of New Hampshire voters is gearing up to meet them. They're called the bird-doggers, and their mission is to share what the candidates say in the early primary states with voters across the country. Arnie Alpert with the American Friends Service Committee says bird-dogs may capture the answers on cell phone cameras and post them on the Internet, but their real strength is in their questions...

"The power is in the people, not in the technology, people becoming savvy about the issues, people learning how to get their message across. Once they do that then we can figure out how they can spread what they learned."

Bird-dog training sessions are being held across the state in the next few weeks to teach voters how to get and share answers from the candidates.

Alpert says bird-dogging can turn voters into citizen-journalists by teaching them how to get answers ...

"We try to train people so that they can ask concise questions that inform the candidate, inform the public, inform the media, and really put the candidate on the spot, and that's really the art of the bird dog."

According to Alpert, New Hampshire's tradition of face-to-face campaigning gives local bird-dogs a great opportunity to influence next year's elections...

"With regard to the presidential campaign, we have an unparalleled opportunity to use this technique compared to people in other states."

Alpert is a long-time New Hampshire activist and can be reached at (603) 224-2407. Priorities NH is offering bird-dog training in Cornish this Saturday, at UNH next Thursday, and in Derry next Saturday.

John Robinson/Eric Mack, Public News Service - NH