The presidential candidate who raised the most money in the past three months raised most of that cash over the Internet. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean has a new nickname: the e-candidate. Dean’s campaign has been the most active in courting voters via the Internet. The next phase is a pen-pal experiment that will link Dean’s webfans with Iowans who’re likely to go to the Caucuses. Dean is asking his 55-thousand on-line supporters around the country to use “snail mail” and send two letters to Iowans who may be undecided about which candidate they’ll support. Dean says a personal letter has a much different impact than radio and television advertising. Dean says when you buy ads on the airwaves you hope the average person sees the ad “nine times and hopes nobody flicks it off and happens to go to the kitchen to get a beer at the time” your ad is on the air. No candidate before Dean has used the Internet to this extent to do grassroots organizing. Dean says the Internet has proven more powerful a medium than he ever would have imagined. He says it’s where the “shoe leather meets the mouse pad and the Superhighway.” Dean says he doesn’t have to be the webhead or nerdy candidate to garner attention and support via the Internet. Twenty-five-year-old Peter Franke of Iowa City, an employee at the University of Iowa, has listened to some of Dean’s speeches on-line, on the campaign’s website. Franke says he checks the Dean website daily, and sends links to his friends who’re also on-line. Franke is willing to pick up pen and paper and write an old-fashioned letter to another Iowan who hasn’t heard of Dean yet.
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