July 11, 2006

Political networkers to get new Web site, HotSoup

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A team of U.S. political strategists
is creating an Internet forum for debating hot-button issues,
hoping to connect the politically obsessed the way MySpace.com
hooks up hypersocial teens.

HotSoup.com launches in October, shortly before U.S.
congressional elections, and aims to draw top political
personalities as well as grass-roots community organizers to
swap opinions and ideas.

Its creators hail from the Democratic and Republican camps,
including Joe Lockhart, who was press secretary to President
Bill Clinton for two years, and Matthew Dowd, chief strategist
for President George W. Bush's reelection campaign in 2004.

"There is a group of 30 to 40 million people in this
country that are basically the (political) opinion drivers or
influencers," Dowd said during a conference call. "All of us
saw a need and desire for a richer conversation."

Ron Fournier, a former senior political writer for the
Associated Press, will serve as editor-in-chief of the site.

Internet blogs and online forums played a key role in the
2004 presidential campaign, used by partisan commentators and
by candidates themselves to build support, raise money and poke
fun at rivals.

HotSoup will invite well-known political personalities to
discuss agenda-leading topics, whether a debate on gay marriage
or U.S. immigration issues.

HotSoup will also allow audience members to spin off their
own topics into smaller forums and exchange reviews of books or
speeches they find noteworthy, said Allie Savarino, an Internet
advertising expert and one of the site's founders. The site
will seek advertising to finance its operation.