Campaigning in the Kos Primary
Anyone wondering whether the netroots will influence who winds up as the Democratic Party's 2008 presidential nominee need only have looked at the attendees at last weekend's Yearly Kos convention in Las Vegas. Four potential White House candidates attended in person, while a number of others sent staff or hosted events to make sure the liberal bloggers in attendance knew they were paying attention.
Here's a look at what each of the potential 2008 candidates did at Yearly Kos. The candidates are ranked by their level of involvement/investment in the conference. If we're missing an event or your candidate had a presence there that is not noted, feel free to post away in the comments section at the bottom of this entry.
* Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner: Warner was the only potential presidential candidate to be granted a formal speaking role at the convention. He chose to deliver his standard stump speech rather than tailor his address to the blog crowd and risk being painted as a panderer by the assembled media. In truth, Warner probably won more converts (or at least sparked their interest) with his party Friday night at the Stratosphere Casino and Hotel. The party drew rave reviews, although The Fix arrived too late to make it in -- sigh. Warner also huddled with nine bloggers following his Saturday speech, spoke to the Young Democrats, who were also hosting a convention in Las Vegas, and maintained a booth for his Forward Together PAC in the Yearly Kos exhibition hall. Looking for an explanation for why Warner received such kind treatment? Two words -- Jerome Armstrong. The pioneering blogger founded mydd.com in 2001 and is now an adviser to Warner.
* Retired Gen. Wesley Clark: Clark, like Warner, sought to appeal to the netroots through free food and drink. He hosted a well-attended party Friday night after appearing on a science panel earlier in the day. During a conversation with The Fix (more details on that soon), Clark emphasized that bloggers deserved credit for convincing him to run in 2004 and that the Internet community he built during that race remains largely intact.
* New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: Richardson spent Friday in Las Vegas, starting his day with a breakfast attended by approximately 75 bloggers. He was introduced at that event by Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, the founder of the Dailykos blog. Richardson then appeared on an energy panel and later spoke to the Young Democrats. During an interview with The Fix (again, more on that later this week), Richardson admitted that he is still relatively new to the phenomenon of blogging, but like any good politician, he said he is taking steps to remedy that.
* Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack: The Iowa governor was the most surprising attendee given his role as chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council -- a group that has come under considerable criticism from the netroots. Vilsack kept a low-profile, appearing on an education panel on Saturday.
* Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold: Feingold's operation had the largest presence of any potential Democratic presidential candidate who did not actually attend the conference in person. A flyer promoting his Progressive Patriots PAC was included in the packet given to every conference attendee. He also maintained a booth in the exhibition hall that featured a television that continuously played a welcome message and a Feingold speech from Iowa. Feingold also had three staffers from Progressive Patriots in attendance, including John Brian McCarthy, who handles Internet outreach, and press flack Trevor Miller.
* Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry: Kerry didn't attend the conference, but he sent three
current or former staffers -- Internet Operations Director Melissa Boasberg, Kerry '04 blog strategist Peter Daou and '04 senior advisor James Boyce. (Neither Daou nor Boyce was sent by Kerry. They attended the conference on their own. The Fix stands corrected.) Kerry also sponsored a gathering at the Bellagio Hotel for approximately 35 bloggers who were intimately involved in his 2004 presidential campaign.
* Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh: Both men had a presence at the convention, but just barely. Edwards was invited but could not attend because of a scheduling conflict. He sent Ryan Montoya, who directs Internet operations for his One America PAC. Bayh's Web liaison -- Ryan Alexander -- attended the conference.
* New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton: The presumptive frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic nomination had no formal presence at the Yearly Kos conference. As we've noted before, Sen. Clinton isn't likely to focus on anything else but winning a HUGE reelection victory this fall. After that, prepare for the Clinton juggernaut.
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