In a debate televised on CNN yesterday, eight Democratic presidential candidates answered questions submitted by users of YouTube, the Internet video site. CLICK FOR LARGE
Politicians in isles see online shift for exchange
YouTube delivers unusual debate between presidential candidates
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Hawaii politicians and consultants are taking note: The Internet has arrived in the world of politics.
After Democratic presidential candidates answered questions yesterday in a televised live CNN debate in conjunction with video-sharing Web site YouTube, state Rep. Maile Shimabukuro said there is a place for the Internet in local politics.
Hawaii politicians and political advisers noted that anyone could post questions to the candidates, drawing in viewers for long periods of time.
Others see YouTube and the Internet as a way get the message out to voters without relying on expensive television.
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The post-your-own-video Internet site, YouTube.com, became a new political force yesterday as ordinary citizens posed questions to candidates for president.
The Democratic candidates answered the questions yesterday in a televised live CNN debate.
Hawaii politicians and political advisers are watching to see how the experiment in Internet politics will influence elections here.
Anyone could post questions to the candidates, and that ability for ordinary citizens to get involved has a lot of politicians taking notice.
Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama were among the Democratic presidential hopefuls at yesterday's debate sponsored by CNN, YouTube and Google.
"Young people especially are using YouTube and MySpace and other Internet sites, and I think there is a place for it in local politics," Rep. Maile Shimabukuro said.
"It lets them see the whole thing and not just a two-second blurb on TV," Shimabukuro (D, Waianae-Makua) said.
Others see YouTube and the Internet as ways to increase the chance for political debate without relying on the expense of television.
The "speed-dating" debate format used during the crowded 2nd Congressional District race last year could translate into a YouTube Internet video, says attorney and campaign adviser Andy Winer.
"It totally makes sense to do something like that," Winer said. "I think we will get people clever enough to understand that we can replicate it relatively cheaply and make it happen."
Brian Schatz, an unsuccessful Democratic candidate in that congressional election, said the "Internet is fast becoming one of the key ways to get information about a candidate."
A YouTube contributor identified as Saheed Badmus, below, posed a question to the candidates in Charleston, S.C.
Traditional media exposure with news media reports and profiles might be too brief to give voters all the information they want about a candidate, said Schatz, who is campaigning for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill.
The ease in posting videos on the Internet can also be an new tool in political races, says Neal Milner, University of Hawaii political scientist and ombudsman.
Supporters with video cameras in mainland campaigns have followed opponents to record any public slips in their speeches or appearances, and the same thing is likely to happen here.
"Gossip that used to be spread furtively and anonymously will now be spread publicly and systematically," Milner said. "Gaffes and opposition truth squads will become more visible.
"Unpaid campaign workers can now get credibility by making a video instead of simply passing out literature and waving signs."
Schatz warned that sort of campaigning could hurt because it would make candidates more cautious, rewarding the "mistake-free campaign."
"You don't want a leader who is just someone who doesn't make a verbal gaffe. ... Some of our greatest governors were not skilled orators," Schatz said.
Campaign ads posted on YouTube or other Internet sites can become a story in themselves, says David Wilson, with McNeil-Wilson Communications.
YouTube spots have their own believability to them, Wilson said.
"It is like getting free media, but it may be more believable," Wilson said.