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You Knew it Was
Coming: First IM
Forums on Tap

The list of "firsts" in presidential forums and debates just keeps on growing, thanks to the Internet. The Republican candidates get their shot at the first online video format, courtesy of the the CNN/YouTube debate on Nov. 28. On Sept. 12, Yahoo! will team up with liberal sites the Huffington Post and Slate (owned by The Washington Post Co.) for the first online-only debate.

And sometime next month, on a college campus near you, will be the first in a series of IMPFs -- instant messaging presidential forums. MySpace, with its presidential Impact Channel campaign hub, and MTV, with its 15-year-old "Choose or Lose" voter education drive, are co-sponsors.

Much like the online video debate and the cyber face-off, the folks behind the IMPFs are touting the new format. "This is a unique offering, a game changer, a real breakthrough in voter and user information," said Jeff Berman of MySpace.

The hour-long forums begin next month and continue until December, a month before MySpace's Impact Channel hosts its online presidential primary on Jan. 1 and 2. All the major Republican and Democratic candidates are participating, and the first Presidential dialogue has been confirmed with former Senator John Edwards in the early primary state of New Hampshire on Thursday, September 27. At the forum -- to be aired on MTV and mtvU and webcast live on MTV.com and MySpaceTV -- MTV viewers and MySpacers can submit questions via MySpaceIM, cell phone and e-mail. While watching the live event, follow-up questions can be submitted. "This is where the conversation can be unfiltered and spontaneous," Berman said. MTV News correspondents will moderate the forums.

The first college venue will be announced in the coming days. MySpacers can be in the audience by "friending" the official MySpace profile of the candidate, adding him/her to the MySpacer's "Top 8" friends and being one of the first to show up when the college campus location is revealed.

As it stands, Republicans need to work on their MySpace outreach. Collectively, the top Democratic contenders -- Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, Edwards and Gov. Bill Richardson -- have 370,488 MySpace friends. The top four GOP candidates -- former mayor Rudy Giuliani, former governor Mitt Romney, former senator Fred Thompson and Sen. John McCain -- have 84,444.

-- Jose Antonio Vargas.

By Post Editor  |  August 23, 2007; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , The Debates  
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