Yes, Rudy Giuliani has a sizable lead in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. Yes, Giuliani is considered the Republican frontrunner (though Mitt Romney mightily disagrees). But in the online race, where social networking sites such as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace offer easy, cheap, innovative ways to rally the base, Hizzoner has fallen way behind the pack.
It's gotten so glaringly obvious that a spokesman for Eons.com, the MySpace for baby boomers, called The Post earlier this week. Giuliani, the spokesman told us, is the only big-name contender who doesn't have an Eons profile. Baffled, the spokesman wondered: " Um, what's going on with Giuliani's online presence?"
We've been wondering that for months.
Giuliani's the only candidate whose MySpace profile is set to private. ("Is there any special wisdom that he can claim for being the only one with a private profile?" quipped a Republican online political operative.) He's invisible on Facebook, where the profiles of Rep. Ron Paul, an online darling, and Romney, whose five sons are blogging it up online, have 14,000 and 12,000 supporters, respectively. And while Sen. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, has posted YouTube-specific videos ("The Sopranos" spoof the best among them), Giuliani keeps on merely uploading speeches and television appearances on his YouTube channel.
Interestingly enough, when the International Association of Fire Fighters took out their video hit on the former New York mayor, Hizzoner issued a detailed prebuttal -- in the form of a press release.
(Some background: Katie Harbarth, formerly of the Republican National Committee's eCampaign shop, heads Giulian's online team. Patrick Ruffini, the Webmaster for Bush's re-election campaign in 2004, served as Giuliani's online adviser for four months but left a few weeks ago; his departure "was done amicably," he said, but he declined further comment.
"There's been a lot of talk about the gap between the Republicans and Democrats online. Well, there's a gap within the GOP, too. Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and John McCain are on one side. And Rudy Giuliani is on another," snapped a frustrated Republican OPO, who's unaffiliated with a campaign and declined to be identified.
Added Matt Lewis, a blogger and director of operations at Townhall, the popular conservative site (who thankfully agreed to be identified): "There are two reasons why Rudy is lagging behind online. First of all, he's the frontrunner. If you look at the campaigns that really do innovative, revolutionary things online, they are usually the underdog campaigns -- Ron Paul. When you're a frontrunner like Rudy, you don't want to take risks and make mistakes. Secondly, I've been to events where Rudy has spoken. He's very guarded. He's not the most accessible of candidates, and that's the online campaign that he's run so far."
Is this why Hizzoner is leaning towards snubbing the upcoming CNN/YouTube debate on Sept. 17?
Already, Republican OPOs, young turks such as Ruffini and David All, have launched an online petition to urge Giuliani and others to attend the GOP's turn on videopopulism on Sept. 17.
Josh Hersh, a student at Kansas State and a Giuliani supporter, has made a YouTube video touting the petition.
-- Jose Antonio Vargas
The comments to this entry are closed.