In every presidential campaign cycle, candidates in a crowded primary field are always looking for that “breakout moment.” The clever debate stage quip that gets replayed endlessly on cable news. The powerful speech at a major state party fundraiser that wows the crowd.

But one method that may surpass the potential of all those this year is a viral moment caught on camera at an event or in an interview, one that could happen at literally any moment. With so much of the active Democratic voter base getting their news about the candidates from stories that pop up in their social media feed, any popular video clip of a candidate can spread like wildfire and be seen by far more people than a week of TV ads or cable news interview.

To help make more of those moments possible, a new partnership between Progress Iowa and NowThis Politics kicks off this week for a series of Democratic presidential candidate interviews. The first will be held this afternoon with Kirsten Gillibrand in Cedar Rapids a little after 2:30 this afternoon. The link to the live interview will be here.

The NowThis media news site is the expert these days at getting videos to go viral online, and their expanding politics section has seen a lot of success. A recent five-minute clip of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticizing campaign finance laws at a House committee hearing has received an astonishing 38.8 million views on Twitter alone. You can’t buy that kind of exposure through TV ads and direct mail pieces alone.

Today’s Gillibrand interview will be held in a living room in a Cedar Rapids home and be focused on jobs. She’s likely to talk about her “rewarding work” plan, part of her legislation designed to help small business owners plan for retirement, convert business to employee-owned outfits, and expand access to small business loans.

“For us, it’s a great opportunity to make sure those type of issues are highlighted among as many candidates as possible, and that they’re being discussed during the caucus and early primary season,” Progress Iowa executive director Matt Sinovic told Starting Line. “Our role is going to be hosting these events as they’re able to schedule them, and identify people who have real-life experiences on these issues to be a part of these small group discussion.”

Sinovic says NowThis reached out to them to help put together small events for candidate interviews. As Progress Iowa doesn’t endorse in the caucus, it’s a good way for them to help facilitate discussions on important policy issues that they and Iowans care about. Several other Iowa groups, including Interfaith Alliance, the Iowa Citizen Action Network, and various labor union partners will help out in putting together events.

 

by Pat Rynard
Posted 2/18/19

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