Howard Dean's Internet candidacy 

At one of the man

At one of the many Howard Dean fund-raising house parties around the state Aug. 29, a familiar tune could be heard. “I’ve never been involved in politics before.” Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president is combining old school tactics — house party fund-raisers, street flyers, voter registration — with Internet-age organization. Though the Internet is well-entrenched in society by now, it hasn’t been seriously harnessed as a presidential campaign organization tool on this scale until now. The latest flashpoint for the campaign in Indiana was a series of 30 statewide parties, focused around a conference call with Dean. On the Northside of Indianapolis, 30 people mingled and talked at a party organized by Fernow McClure, Lonnie Jones and Dustin Gzym, in Jones and Gzym’s home. Most of the people there had never met before. “It’s a brilliant way to bring all these people together, with Dean being the only commonality between them all,” Gzym said. Just listening in on conversations you heard distinctly Internet-age exchanges, the talk of people who previously only knew each other on message boards. “Do you post?” “Yeah, I’m WorkerBee.” “You’re WorkerBee? I’m SandyInIndianapolis!” They meet the first Wednesday of every month at the Rathskeller, Yats and the downtown Borders bookstore, organized through local Web sites (see below). During the conference call, everyone at the party — like the hundreds of others across the state — clustered around the speakerphone. Dean took numerous questions and explained his reasoning for targeting a heavily Republican state like Indiana. “My plan is to go to the states where people might not think a Democrat would stand a chance,” Dean said. “The way we plan to beat this president is not to be like him, but to stand up for what we believe in and bring in 3 or 4 million people who didn’t vote last time.” And the beginning of these millions is in the hundreds gathered at parties like this one: gay, straight, military, anti-war protestors, ministers. Each came to Dean for different reasons — his dedication to health care, his solid opposition to the Iraq war in a time when it was extremely unpopular to do so and his support of civil unions in Vermont. The party included several military veterans and former supporters of George W. Bush who have become disillusioned recently. “I’m part of a veteran’s Yahoo group, and as you can imagine, at first they were all ‘Bush, Bush, Bush!’” Gina Coleman said. “And then little promises started to be broken, and then big promises, and then their tune started to change. I mean, trying to cut their imminent danger pay WHILE they’re being shot at? Pretty soon they were all saying, ‘We’ve got to do something about this.’” It was a dedication voiced by many that night. “I’m ready to go. I’m all fired up,” Gzym said. “I’m ready to devote the next year of my life to making certain that man becomes president.” On the Web: hoosiersfordean

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