Edwards, media giants connect with youth

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Democratic presidential hopeful, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina talks with political writer Chris Cillizza during a live, interactive online web cast with MySpace.com and MTV in Durham, N.H., Thursday, Sept. 27, 2007.
(AP Photo/Jim Cole)
John Edwards (D)
Former Senator, NC
Born: 06/10/1953
Birthplace: Seneca, SC
Home: Raleigh, NC
Religion: Methodist
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DURHAM In a sign that the instant messaging era was merging with primary politics, Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards likely became the first candidate to answer a question from a potential voter named "LunarGoddess6B."

That was the broadband atmosphere at the University of New Hampshire Thursday in which Edwards answered questions from an audience of more than 300 UNH students and untold numbers of Internet users who submitted queries and watched online.

The hourlong format combined in-depth responses, instant online polling, and youth-focused questions on a wide range of issues education, poverty, global warming, health care, terrorism, the arts, stem cell research, the genocide in Darfur, rebuilding New Orleans, and the Iraq war.

"LunarGoddess6B" sent an instant message asking Edwards if he would raise taxes to pay for educational proposals and health care plans. Edwards said he planned to "change the tax structure" and said he would roll back President Bush's tax cuts for upper income Americans and raise the capital gains tax rates from 15 percent to as much as 28 percent.

Sponsored by MySpace.com, the large social networking Web site, and MTV, the "Choose or Loose" political dialogue event will be repeated throughout the election season with Republican and Democratic presidential candidates in an attempt to increase interest and participation among younger voters.

Washington Post.com political writer and blogger Chris Cillizza, one of the event's moderators, said was optimistic about achieving the youth vote mission.

"We're saying, 'Meet us halfway,'" Cillizza said. "We're also saying that something real (the election) is at stake."

Edwards, who got favorable approval ratings for the event by more than 90 percent participating, was critical of Bush administration policies. He occasionally emphasized differences with his Democratic rivals but mostly emphasized his own populist campaign themes including frankly admitting his own good fortune and wealth and striving to create more opportunities to better the country and its stature in the world.

"I think it was great," said Christina Gagne, a UNH freshman from Concord. "He was extremely easy to understand, and I like his plan for health care which is very important to me."

Edwards "did some good" for his candidacy with his appearance, said Cillizza. He said one of the keys to the event was merging technology and information. "I think they (the students and online participants) came out better informed."

HERALD forum slated

What: Candidate forum on Iraq, with Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards.

When: Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 3 p.m.

When: Seacoast Media Group, 111 New Hampshire Ave., Portsmouth

If you want to go: Space is limited. Sign up for the event by e-mail only at mmccord@seacoastonline.com. Please include name and contact information.

Look for complete coverage of the event from the Portsmouth Herald, www.seacoastonline.com and www.thenewhampshireprimary.com.