The Campaign Spot

Are Republican Candidates Actually Doing More Outreach to the Blogs?

Later this afternoon, the McCain campaign will have another blogger conference call with the senator; a summary and highlights will be found here as soon as it’s completed.

Talking to my left-of-center blogger colleagues earlier this week, I was told that the Democratic candidates have, surprisingly, made less effort to reach out to their bloggers — at least in the form of conference calls with the candidate. In addition to McCain’s nearly-weekly calls, Giuliani did one, the Romney camp has done them with their campaign’s policy experts (and Romney’s folks set up an interview with me way back when I was still in Turkey); Huckabee held a conference call with his supporters, and a few conservative election blog correspondents like Phil Klein and myself were invited to his press meeting in Washington a few weeks back. We haven’t yet seen one from the Thompson campaign, but he is taking questions from bloggers and answering them in video form.
By comparison, I was told none of the Democratic candidates have made comparable efforts, or at least the lefty bloggers I was traveling with — among the most prominent on their side — hadn’t heard of any. (I was even told that one of the Big Three on their side had tried to organize a conference call with the candidate with lefty bloggers, and the bloggers said they weren’t interested. I find that story baffling, so take it with a grain of salt.)
What is even more surprising about the lack of blogger conference calls on the Democrats’ side is that they have represented, at least for McCain, a good way to get around process and poll-obsessed media. When McCain’s campaign was really in the dumps a few months ago, with the massive top staff exodus, he did a blogger call and got one question on his campaign troubles; the rest of the questions were focused on Iraq and other issues. I can’t help but suspect that had he done the same with the MSM, he would have gotten fifty varieties of, “When are you dropping out? How can you go on after losing these staffers?”

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