Rapid Response by Candidates Crucial in US Election

Immediate response to statements by the opposition party in politics, I.e. “rapid response,” can take several forms. With the PvdA [Dutch Labor Party] in 2006, we worked in particular with e-mails and phone calls to journalists to neutralize allegations made by, for example, the Centre-right Christian Democratic party or the the Socialist Party of the Netherlands, which were just not factual.

During the course of the campaign, a website, www.checkdefeiten.nl (“check the facts”) came into being, where with source material it was proven what the facts were. Sources could be literal quotes from politicians, writings from parties’ elections literature, or, for example, how a party stood in the past on a particular issue.

In the U.S. presidential campaign, rapid response is used in the same way. The biggest difference is that more money, people and materials are available in the U.S. for competition research. Take John McCain, a man who has sat in the Senate for decades and who has participated in a huge number of votes. All those votes have to be investigated to search for inconsistencies, of which there turn out to be a large number.

In addition to that, there are “only” about one thousand hours of video material available where McCain appears. That is not only American TV programs, but there are also foreign programs that have to be translated.

Rapid response also makes use of Youtube video materials to make video clips. Last week, for example, there was a lightning-quick response to denounce some of McCain’s “straight talk.” The response was based strictly on facts, something that I value a lot. [The article concludes with a video clip of a McCain appearance on Meet the Press]

Note: The author, Kirsten Verdel, is a Dutch journalist who has worked for the last six months for the Barack Obama presidential campaign. She is the first foreigner ever to go to work directly at the headquarters of the DNC during a presidential election.

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