The folks who brought you the White House on the Web are building a new virtual home, and they're inviting Democrats to come on over, plant their virtual lawn signs, and pony up some campaign dough.
Democrats Online, billed as a "progressive community" organizing in cyberspace, will be launched next Tuesday to coincide with the Democratic National Convention.
In this year of cybercampaigning, political Web sites are turning into the campaign buttons of the '90s. They're also becoming new vehicles to get to the hearts, minds, and wallets of voters.
Not to be confused with official candidate sites, Democrats Online lets users create their own Web page as part of the registration process. Then--and here comes the fund-raising part--those people can call a 900 number and record a message that will be posted on their page using RealAudio, said David Lytel, chairman of Democrats Online and cocreator of the White House site.
In turn, Democrats Online, an independent political committee, will get $4.95 for the first minute and $1.25 for each additional minute, if the user happens to be long-winded.
The money will be used to promote Democrats on the Internet, Lytel said. The site, he said, "is based on the gamble that we can get a sufficient number of people to make the recording."