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Old Candidate Websites: Revisiting A More Innocent Time

Governor Paterson’s favorite person in New York these days is probably Hiram Monserrate, the former New York State Senator whose political path has gone from switching parties to an assault conviction to expulsion from the Senate to campaigning for his old seat. Monserrate is a walking distraction, at least until Election Day tomorrow.

A few weeks ago, the Times’ J. David Goodman looked at Monserrate’s 2008 campaign website, which was still allowing comments. (The comments he was receiving were not particularly flattering.) In the piece, Goodman asked an interesting question:

How many orphaned campaign sites litter the Internet?

That, of course, was a challenge. I’ve made a few campaign websites in my day, and it’s true. When you wake up (late) on the Wednesday morning after the election, taking down the site for an unsuccessful candidate is not the first priority. But finding these sites is tough – who remembers the domain name for some House candidate from 2005?

Instead, I thought I’d explore the always-wonderful Internet Archive to revisit those domains that I could remember (and, frankly, that would be generally interesting). And so, I present: Old Campaign Websites, in reverse chronological order.

2008
The 2008 campaign for President was not only the most recent, but one you likely still remember. The sites themselves were considered news, after all, during one of the most-watched campaigns in American history. But, as a Democrat, I didn’t spend a lot of time exploring the sites of Republicans who lost in the primary. So:

2008rudyNearly no one of any party saw Rudy Giuliani’s campaign site. The sulky photo is apt.

2008huckabeeMike Huckabee’s site, with its Easter message, seems to be in keeping with his campaign themes. The link to his Myspace page does not.

2008romneyAn old Photoshop hand like myself can give you a tip about the Romney site: the photo of Mitt and his wife may have been superimposed on the flag in the background.

2008paulAnd then there’s Ron Paul. The highlight of this one? His announcement bout an appearance on “Glen Beck” (see: Upcoming events). Remember when it was Paul who commanded the legions of fanatic supporters?

The Republicans in the audience may not be aware that there was a pretty scrappy contest for the Democratic nod in 2008.

2008hillarySo you may not have seen Hillary Clinton’s site, for example. (She came in second.) It’s impossible to believe that a candidate with such strong support of Elton John wouldn’t prevail in November.

2008edwardsThe other guy in the hunt was John Edwards. On his withdrawal from the campaign, he vanished from sight. We can only assume that he and his wife (pictured!) lived happily ever after.

2006
2006spitzerSpeaking of sex scandals, did you know that David Paterson was never elected as Governor?

I’d be curious to see what the “Friends of Eliot and David” counter would read these days.

2004
2004kerrySpeaking of sex scandals, a much-younger John Edwards was also the Vice Presidential candidate in 2004. This site reminds me of numerous scathing comparisons between Bush and Kerry’s logos – the former’s being far bolder than the latters.

2004bushThe same holds true for their websites. Bush’s 2004 site was much stronger and confident than Kerry’s. Note the famous “Wolves” ad promoted at lower left.

2004bushfakeThat strength also led itself to parody, however. The owners of Bush2004.com made hay with some of the prominent themes of the President’s campaign.

2003
2004arnoldResidents of California elected a former actor to be their Governor. When he died, the former actor that was then their Governor paid tribute.

(Arnold was elected in 2003, so I’m counting this as that year.)

2001
2001mikeI’m often surprised how often people forget that September 11, 2001, was a primary election day in New York City’s race for Mayor. The front-runner was Mike Bloomberg, who lost and retired penniless.

(A quick plug: I presented a collection of screen captures I made on 9/11 for last year’s anniversary.)

2000
2000bushProbably the most fascinating pages I came across in this retrospective were those from Bush and Gore, shortly after Election Day in 2000. Each page shows messages calling for continued support from voters during the recount process. (It’s fascinating to remember how many of these battles were fought by proxy – here, James Baker versus Bill Daley.)

2000goreBush looks so young; Gore so cramped in the tiny box displaying his photo. There is also a picture of Joe Lieberman on the page. Question for time travelers: will seeing that photo impact how you might vote in the 2000 race?

1996
Most candidates didn’t have websites in 1996, but the White House did. In fact, the White House is one of the few organizations that has a full set of captures from 1996 to 2008. The progression of American politics and technology are both captured over the course of these 12 years.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s hard to remember domains for all of the various candidates who have run over the years. So I made this little tool – if you enter a domain name (including the dot-whatever) and a date, you can pull up the Internet Archive’s closest web capture.


If you find anything interesting, add it in the comments below.

Or maybe we should have a contest for the most derivative, ugliest campaign website in history. Here’s my entry: the site for Hiram Monserrate’s re-installation campaign. Green, yellow and black combined with a mutated Obama logo is bound to be a front-runner.

Even if comments aren’t allowed.

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

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