Four years ago, then-Sen. Barack Obama made his vice presidential choice public by sending a mass text message to supporters. On Tuesday, Mitt Romney’s campaign announced they will make their announcement through a smartphone app.
The campaign launched an app called “Mitt’s VP,” which will send the news straight to a smartphone using push notifications and then allow the user to easily spread the word on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
“The first official way to learn the name of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate is by using our new ‘Mitt’s VP’ app,” said Romney Digital Director Zac Moffatt in a statement. “Users of the app will be the first to get the news on the biggest political decision of the year through an instantaneous alert on the one device most people carry around the clock — their phone.”
Obama’s gambit famously flopped in 2008 as national news camera crews surrounded his “super-secret VP choice’s house” a day before the announcement. Obama supporters started getting the “news” of the Biden pick in the early morning hours of Aug. 23, 2008, hours after all MSM outlets had reported the story. Then, because the volume of text messages they were pushing was so high, they went out in waves, and some supporters were not notified of the “news” until well into the day on Saturday. Some even received the message on Nokias! It was a different time.
Because it was the Obama ’08 campaign, there wasn’t much backlash for the snafu (though some predicted it), the move was hailed as savvy, and everyone moved on. What it did succeed in doing, and what it was truly meant to achieve more than its putative democratization of the announcement, was the inflation of Obama’s cell-phone number rolls.
Romney’s not likely to get the same light treatment from the press if his VP announcement via new technology goes as sour as Obama’s did. First step: check the spelling on the Veep’s name. There’s also more for him to gain than Obama by giving voters first crack at the news by keeping a tight lid on it. Conservatives would certainly warm to the idea of knowing the pick before the MSM, if it were possible, though I doubt it will be. If I remember correctly, it was a Secret Service crew being sent to Biden’s house that tipped everyone off, and the press will be keeping an eye out for that logistical necessity again.
But much like Obama’s gambit, this isn’t designed to democratize the announcement as much as it is to get a buy-in to the campaign from a bunch of voters tantalized by the idea of being included. So, what are you waiting for? Download your app!
It is a cool idea that will get Romney a bit of press, making his technology coverage much more sunny of late than coverage of the Obama campaign. Buzzfeed‘s charting of the “strange devolution of the Obama campaign’s e-mails,” from confident suitor in ’08 to insecure stalker in ’12 went viral yesterday. Because it’s so true.