In the past month, two candidates for the Republican nomination for President declared using new forms of media. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty used a video on his Facebook page to announce his candidacy, while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney likewise posted a prerecorded video to his campaign website declaring his intentions. While utilizing web videos and Facebook is nothing new to campaigns, using these mediums to declare is a new trend.
Prior to ‘08, candidates traditionally announced to small crowds in the primary states before using television to further spread their messages. Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, Howard Dean and John Kerry all used stump speeches that were picked up by the news to announce their candidacies. Only John Edwards in ‘04 used a television show to get his message out when he appeared on the Daily Show. This tactic helps name recognition and branding considering millions of people instantly saw his announcement instead of a couple hundred at a New Hampshire town hall. Four of the major candidates in ’08 followed his lead by announcing on Letterman (John McCain), Leno (Fred Thompson), Meet the Press (Mike Huckabee), and Larry King (Rudy Giuliani).
Despite the prevalence of campaign Facebook pages and YouTube political ads in ’08, only two candidates used the web to declare. Barack Obama announced with a video press release on his website followed by a speech in Illinois, while Hillary Clinton also used her website to declare, but only in a written statement to her followers. Romney was the only major candidate in ’08 not to utilize the web or TV to announce his candidacy, but made a speech in a museum in Michigan, so maybe he is learning this time around.