Democrats go dot-com

freeDEM.com

In a bid to tap the appeal of the Internet, the Democratic National Committee

is offering free Internet service to anyone with a computer and a telephone

line.

The service, freeDEM.com, provides users with news, sports scores, weather,

links to online shopping, the ability to send and receive e-mail, Internet

access and a healthy dose of Democratic campaign rhetoric. The site invites

users to register to vote, volunteer to help the campaign and, of course,

contribute to the Democratic Party.

"This election year, technology allows us to be more open than ever

before. We invite you to participate in the drafting of our 2000 Democratic

Platform," says a message from presidential candidate Al Gore, who has made

the Internet and electronic government a key issue in his campaign.

FreeDEM Internet service is provided through MillionEyes.com, a Bethesda,

Md., marketing company that produces free Internet and e-mail services that

companies can offer clients. Advertising targeted toward users' profiles

and Internet habits pays for the service.

Offering free Internet service has the potential to generate excitement

and participation in the Democratic Party, said Michael Cornfield, research

director of George Washington University's Democracy Online Project. "Right

now, it's a creative ploy. We'll know how brilliant it was when we see how

much time and effort they spend" keeping it up-to-date and interesting,

he said.

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