Presidential candidates use Web as forum for platforms

Despite Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole's bumble while plugging his World Wide Web page during the first presidential debate this month the Dole campaign's home page has been a popular stopover for those wishing to get more information on the former senator and his policy positions.According to information posted at www.dolekemp96.org (not www.dolekemp96org as Dole related in his final statement during the first presidential debate) the page received 762 000 hits in a single four-hour period following the Oct. 6 debate.

Of course the Clinton campaign also has targeted voters via cyberspace. Only days before the first debate Clinton's campaign office announced that the Clinton/Gore '96 Web page at www.cg96.org had been relaunched with significant improvements.

According to Adam Sohn director of technology for Clinton's re-election campaign the site received 112 000 hits between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. following the debate and 450 000 hits in a six-hour period the day after the debate.

The two sites are strikingly similar in many aspects with each posting policy and issue information tailored to specific states platform specifics biographical information about the presidential and vice presidential candidates opportunities to donate money or time and access to bumper stickers and buttons.

Bells and Whistles

Each site has incorporated multimedia advances for glitz. Dole showcases television commercials in real-time video and provides audio of various speeches. Clinton's page offers the Clinton/Gore '96 Channel which delivers news graphics audio and video files to Windows 95 users.

The Republican page boasts what is probably the most effective use of the Internet: Voters can create their own personal Web page according to their home state and issues of interest. Drawing from the user's registration information the site includes a personal toolbox that provides criticism of Clinton's record on various issues in the user's home state and details how Dole's platform would affect the state. By indicating issues of interest a user can click on links to press releases white papers Dole speeches and other documents that outline Dole's positions.

Clinton's Web site includes a new main menu with an application that posts animated icons such as a satellite dish or a microphone that appear as the cursor rolls over each section heading giving visitors a peek at each site selection. The site is updated regularly with text of speeches and photos from the president's campaign trail appearances.

The Clinton campaign Web site's most impressive elements are a home-page newsletter called "America's Home Page" and an electoral college simulation. The newsletter which is updated weekly includes testimonials and stories from supporters detailing how presidential policies have affected their lives. The newsletter represents supporters from various age groups socio-economic backgrounds and areas of the country.

The electoral college simulation brings home the logistics of the election process by giving users a chance to choose a Republican Democrat or third-party candidate and designate states for each party to win until one accumulates the required 270 electoral college votes to win the election.

The Democratic re-election site also includes a multimedia presentation called "The Challenges Ahead " which keeps cybersurfers informed about specific Clinton platform issues.

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