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U.S. presidential candidates holding phone forums with voters

U.S. presidential candidates holding phone forums with voters

When she is unable to be in New Hampshire in person to answer voters' questions, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, like several of her rivals, has been doing some long-distance campaigning via telephone conference calls.
The New York senator has held three so far, most recently Thursday night, when about 50 New Hampshire nurses spent just over half an hour on the phone with her. The goal is to give busy voters who might not make it to a campaign rally or speech a way to interact with candidates at a convenient time and from home.
"Hopefully the dishes are done and your family is settled down and you have a quiet moment to talk to me," said Clinton, who gave an abbreviated version of her campaign speech before answering four questions, all from women and all relating to health care.
In the Internet age of Web videos and political blogs, Clinton's Democratic rivals also are making use of the old-fashioned telephone.
Delaware Sen. Joe Biden held a conference call with supporters around the country just before the CNN-YouTube debate in July in which he answered questions submitted ahead of time. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has held conference calls with New Hampshire bloggers, reporters and supporters.
Richardson also posts videos on YouTube to answer questions submitted to his campaign Web site. And Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd prefers to keep in touch with New Hampshire voters by posting live videos from his events in other states or clips showing him answering questions submitted by voters.
On the Republican side, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee likes to call individual voters he has met on the campaign trail to answer any follow-up questions they might have.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's campaign arranged a call with more than 2,000 New Hampshire residents earlier this summer. While Clinton's campaign targeted specific groups _ nurses this week, educators last month _ the Romney campaign made cold calls to Republican and independent voters asking them to join the call just as it got under way.
"We don't know in advance who they're going to be. We just invite them on the spot to take part in the call," said Jim Merrill, Romney's New Hampshire chairman.
Though they were free to say whatever they wanted during the call, those seeking to question Clinton had to submit their questions in advance. Like Romney's call, Clinton's first two conference calls were closed to the media, but the campaign provided The Associated Press with an audio recording of one of the calls and allowed a reporter to listen in on Thursday.
Republican Sen. John McCain also has done telephone "town hall" forums in several states, including one in late May that included 464 New Hampshire participants. McCain, speaking from his campaign headquarters in Washington, gave a brief speech and then answered questions for about an hour.
At the end, participants were asked to stay on the line while staffers asked them if they were interested in volunteering with the campaign. Those who did not get to ask their questions could record them to be answered later.
Merrill said telephone town-halls do not replace face-to-face encounters but are a good way for Romney to reach out when he is out of state.
"It bridges the gap between more distant technology like e-mail that might be a bit more anonymous or impersonal and a sit-down at the local coffee shop," Merrill said.


Updated : 2020-12-02 16:10 GMT+08:00