When candidates want to use the Internet to help them win elections, their go-to-guy is Chuck DeFeo. DeFeo played a major role in the re-election of President George W. Bush in 2004 by using the Internet to reach out to the country. He served as e-campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, running the Internet operations and developing the online strategy. “Hundreds of thousands of people registered to vote through GeorgeWBush.com,” says DeFeo. “There is also some good data from Pew Internet and American Life that show that roughly 84 million people used the Internet for news and information about the campaigns.”
He organized the popular “Parties for the President.” Online supporters threw more than 31,000 of these events. DeFeo also e-mailed to millions of voters maps and directions on how to get to the polls.
DeFeo told HUMAN EVENTS that the most enjoyable part of the ’04 presidential election was “the moment the President arrived at the Ronald Reagan building after Kerry conceded.” “Three years of work to make sure that our nation and the world remained safe — and in safe hands — was confirmed.”
Today, DeFeo works at Salem Communications, a Christian radio broadcasting network and operator of print and online media, including Townhall.com, where he says his job is “to bring the grassroots media of talk radio and the Internet together online.”
“Our nationally syndicated hosts — Bill Bennett, Mike Gallagher, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt — reach millions of Americans every week. I come to work every day thinking about how we can move those folks online to Townhall.com so they can voice their opinion through blogging, pod-casting and interacting with other conservatives.”
DeFeo is excited about the opportunities he has using Townhall.com and Salem’s radio to reach members of the conservative movement and involve them in policy battles and political campaigns. As he says, “While TV pushed people out of politics, the Internet and radio have served to bring people back. That is what excited me and gets me coming to work every day.”
DeFeo has worked with many House, Senate, state and presidential candidates to help develop their online strategies. He served as a legislative and technology aide to former Missouri Sen. and then Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft, creating the first online petition for a member of Congress in 1996. He worked with the Republican National Committee during the 2002 election on similar online strategies.
When asked how the Internet will affect the future of elections, DeFeo said: “Before broadcast television came to dominate politics, grassroots campaigning — neighbors talking to neighbors, door-knocking campaigns, etc. — were the norm. Real people carried the candidate’s message to their friends, family and community. Since the ’60s it has been broadcast messages being pushed at voters. That broadcast model steadily took real people out of politics and made them an ‘audience’ for candidates. The Internet has brought real grassroots Americans back into the political process where they should be. With the advent of broadband and greater online community we will see participation in the political process increase — and that is a really healthy thing for our democracy.”
DeFeo believes the conservative movement has “come a long way in the last 40 years.” He says that there has been “tremendous progress” and that “the confirmation of two solid conservatives on the Supreme Court to me is the greatest recognition of that. I still believe that the Republican Party is our best vehicle to continue pushing conservative causes.”
“As the last year has confirmed,” he says, “we still have a lot of work to do to ensure that the GOP stays the conservative course. I am confident that conservative leaders in the mold of Reagan, Gingrich, Ashcroft, and others will continue to step forward and keep the GOP on a conservative course.”
For more information, write Salem Communications; 901 N. Moore St., Suite 205, Arlington, Va. 22209; or visit www.Townhall.com