House Democrats Become iPod People

Posted July 13, 2005 at 6:42pm

“Edgy” may not be the word that leaps to mind when you think about House Democrats, but on Wednesday they made a play to take advantage of those ubiquitous white headphones sported daily by millions of Americans.

Struggling to get its message out in a Republican-dominated Congress, the House Democratic Caucus has plugged into the nation’s growing infatuation with MP3 players to market its message to the technologically inclined masses, initiating a project in “podcasting.”

The minority’s Web sites are now set up to allow individuals with devices such as Apple’s iPod or other MP3 players unfiltered versions of speeches, radio addresses and press conferences. Anyone with an MP3 can go directly to the Web sites of Members ranging from rank-and-file House Democrats to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and tap into the latest Democratic communications. Users can also search Apple’s iTunes service for the Democratic messages.

Pelosi said the use of podcasting, which went live Wednesday afternoon, is just the latest in a string of Democratic efforts to advance the party’s message.

“House Democrats are committed to using the latest technology to reach out to Americans of all ages and backgrounds,” she said. “It’s one more way that we can connect directly with the people, including more than 10 million iPod users across the country. I’m proud that we are the first congressional caucus to embrace this latest trend in the digital revolution.”

House Democrats are behind only the Republican National Committee in taking advantage of the technology and are the first Congressional group to seize on it. The Democratic National Committee is also on the cusp of launching a similar service.

In marketing the scheme, House Democrats poked fun at the GOP message machine and offered the chance to “drown out the clatter with House Democrats’ Pod cast.”

“Trapped in the car with a Rush Limbaugh fan?” the Democrats ask prospective users. “Are some rude passengers on the bus blasting ‘Best of Bill O’Reilly, Volume 3’ from their boom box? Or worse yet, have you found yourself stuck at one of the President’s staged town hall meetings on Social Security?

“Don’t worry — now you can listen to speeches, press conferences and radio addresses by House Democrats wherever and whenever you want. Drown out the clatter with the House Democrats’ Podcast. Go where you want — and take the truth with you.”

Leadership sources said the Democratic Caucus wanted to jump in early on the latest trend.

One Democratic leadership aide said podcasting is an “edgy” technique and one that will allow Democrats to better connect with younger constituents.

“It’s another tool to get our message out,” said a Democratic leadership aide. “We’re using the Internet, we’re using e-mails, we send quotes to blogs and radio actuality. It’s just another way to get our message to another audience.”

Pelosi anticipates making available her weekly press conference with reporters, as well as key Democratic leadership events and other Member speeches. The leadership will also podcast the Democratic weekly radio address when given by a House Member.

The downloads will be available in English and Spanish.

Democrats say they cannot estimate how many people they can reach with the new service, but say they will at least have access to the 10 million iTunes customers and the thousands who access their Web sites.