Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Huffington Post: DNC Urges Activists To Film GOP

Sam Stein | HuffPost Reporting

The Democratic National Committee will debut on Tuesday a new web-based feature that will empower Democratic activists to serve as "trackers" of Republican candidates throughout the country.

In a move that could add a broad new element of accountability to elections , the DNC is encouraging its followers to upload video, mail pieces or audio recordings of GOP officials to a DNC-run site.

If carried out as planned, the new online tool could drastically alter the landscape of the 2010 elections, with campaign functions contracted out to hundreds of free volunteers. At a minimum, it is a vivid illustration of the modern-day campaign, where a slip-up by a candidate caught on video could have profound impacts on his or her electoral prospects.

Aides freely admit that the goal is to create another "Macaca moment" -- in which former Senator George Allen (R-Va.) famously doomed his reelection hopes by belittling an opposition videographer with a racial slur.

"Macaca was a game-changing event, not only for that race but for others," said Shauna Daly, research director at the DNC who is overseeing the new project.

Certainly it showed people a side of George Allen they hadn't seen before. They just hadn't been exposed to it. And the town halls last summer were amazingly eye-opening to people and video played a major role in it. ... We know that people have cameras everywhere now, whether it is your iPhone or a 200-dollar HD minicam that can take great video. This is something not exclusive to campaigns anymore.

Dubbed "The Accountability Project," the site, which is being emailed to the DNC's massive email list on Tuesday, will serve as a digital library for Democratic officials both state-based and in Washington, D.C. Users are given instructions on how to film a campaign, upload the video, submit copies of mailers or attack ads, record robocalls and place that audio on the web.

An official with the DNC will monitor the submissions in addition to cataloging the content. It will be largely left to interested parties -- reporters, ostensibly, included -- to sort through the information for the more newsworthy or inflammatory bits.

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