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Ready, set, spoof

September 1, 2007
Joel Berg
Campaigns & Elections

Get your domain names now before the presidential campaign really heats up. Sites already snagged include,, and

As the primaries near, more partisans will take to the Internet to spoof the presidential candidates.

During the 2006 campaign, sites with catchy names sprang up to attack a bevy of congressional candidate.

From the GOP came sites like, and, targeting Democrats Sherrod Brown in Ohio, Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Harold Ford Jr. in Tennessee.

The Democrats hit back with, and, gunning for Republicans state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. of New Jersey, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele of Maryland and Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Some targets won. Some targets lost. Either way, spoof sites are an increasingly popular weapon in campaigns.

"If it's done well, I think it can be effective," said Jim Huber, founder of Huberspace Web Development. The Leesburg, Va.-based firm works for Republican candidates in local and congressional races. Humor, after all, can be deadly.

However, the sites are best undertaken by third parties rather than the campaigns themselves, Huber said. "If you have a third party, the candidate can say, 'I had nothing to do with it,'" said Huber.

Kyle D. Kappel is a Web designer in Allentown, Pa. He questioned the effectiveness of spoof sites, arguing that they simply build name recognition for their targets.

"None of these slander sites are dropping bombshells, so it only makes their originators look smarmy and the slandered candidate look victimized," said Kappel, whose firm, The Kyle David Group, works on state races.

Article reprinted with permission.