The presidential candidates, vying for attention and support in a crowded field, are taking a page out of the playbook of ad men -- gimmicky contests.
Hillary Clinton had supporters pick her campaign theme song (a treacly ballad "You and I" from Celine Dion), picked backers to spend a day on the campaign trail in Iowa (then posted a video on her website), and just offered a chance to watch a debate with her famous hubby to help raise money.
Another instance: Mitt Romney let a supporter mash up a TV spot that will air as the first official presidential campaign ad produced by an amateur.
The latest comes this week: Democrat John Edwards will spend Thursday afternoon in the tiny burg of Columbus, Kentucky, which won an online lobbying contest for a visit through Eventful.com. The town, with a 2000 Census population of 229, managed to outvote much larger places. But it fits in better with Edwards' persona as son-of-mill-worker.
"I am excited by the prospect of meeting the residents of Columbus and hearing what they have to say on the issues that matter most to them," Edwards said in a statement issued by his campaign today. "I grew up in a small rural town, so I've seen firsthand how the problems of rural America too often are forgotten by politicians living and working in far-off capital cities."
It could be the most excitement in Columbus for a long time. Its previous claims to fame are as a key Confederate stronghold during the Civil War because of it overlooked the Mississippi River near the confluence with the Ohio, and when then-President Thomas Jefferson briefly suggested it as a new capital for the infant nation after a fire razed Washington, D.C.