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MySpace & MTV line up Presidential candidates

Clinton, Obama and others face voters online

US Presidential candidates are to continue their Web 2.0 onslaught by appearing in a new series of events backed by MySpace and MTV.com.

MySpace and MTV.com users will be able to submit questions to the likes of John Edwards, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in real time during web and television broadcasts.

The two companies described the events as "dialogues" between major Republican and Democratic candidates and MySpace and MTV devotees. Users can participate via MySpace instant messaging, mobile devices and email. The dialogues will take place on college campuses nationwide and air on the MTV and mtvU cable stations, and will be webcast live on MTV.com and MySpaceTV.

Online viewer reaction to the discussions will be captured through live polling on MTV.com and MySpace.com.

The first dialogue will feature former Senator John Edwards on September 27. Eleven other presidential candidates - including Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Chris Dodd, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator John McCain, Senator Barack Obama, Governor Bill Richardson and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney - have all agreed to participate in events to be held between September and December.

"These presidential dialogues will bring individual candidates directly to voters - one at a time," said Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of MySpace. "We are lowering the barriers to entry, setting a high-water mark for direct engagement between presidential candidates and average Americans."

MySpace is not the first Web 2.0 company to jump into the presidential debate arena. YouTube and CNN hosted hosted a Democratic presidential debate in July and has scheduled a similar Republican debate for November 28. At the Democratic debate, video questions created by YouTube users were used to query the candidates on many different issues.

According to a poll released earlier this week by GMI Market Insite, voters are increasingly using social-networking sites like MySpace to help them evaluate political candidates.

Of the 2,116 people polled for the study, 17 percent said they have visited at least one of the candidates' MySpace, Facebook or other social-networking pages. After visiting a candidate's page, 53 percent say they are more likely to vote for him or her, according to the survey. In addition, 41 percent of those surveyed expect that social-networking sites will affect the presidential race, and 51 percent predict that the influence of social-networking sites will boost turnout among young adults.

Jensen Gadley, a spokesman for GMI, said the number of young adults visiting candidates pages represents "a whole lot of people - especially for something that is free [for campaigns] to reach people. [Social networks] are something where people can go directly to the source and listen to what candidates have to say."

"Users felt like they kind of personally knew the candidate a little bit better," he added. "When you read about the candidate in the media, it seems so removed and people don't feel that they get to know the candidate."

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