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21st Century Campaigning: A Fictional Candidate Enters the Race

October 29, 2010

RALEIGH, N.C. - He has a campaign website, Twitter feed and Facebook fan page, but you won't find Jack Phillips listed on the ballot at any voting booth. He's a fictional candidate developed by AARP, with the idea that these midterm elections should focus on the issues, not on personal attacks on candidates.

Political science professor at the University of North Carolina Jason Roberts comments on this "21st century" tactic.

"It's clear they're trying to get their members to think beyond some of the partisan rhetoric and look more closely at issues and positions that candidates are taking on issues that may affect older voters."

The "Jack Phillips for Congress" campaign is being sent out via e-mail to millions of AARP members. It's an unconventional way to educate those in the 50-plus set on the issues, but Roberts says it could be effective.

"We know older Americans are not as adept at finding information on the web as younger people are, so handing it to them like that could prove to be helpful."

Campaign ad spoofs are also posted online to help lighten the election season mood, at

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC