Rudd calls on Facebook mates in campaign

Prime Ministerial hopeful Kevin Rudd has launched his new campaign for leadership with an online publicity blitz -- turning to blogging, YouTube and Facebook to build his profile.

Prime Ministerial hopeful Kevin Rudd has launched his new campaign for leadership with an online publicity blitz -- turning to blogging, YouTube and Facebook to build his profile.

Rudd, who launched his Kevin 07 campaign yesterday, will be using a series of Web 2.0 technologies in his race for politics' top job. In the first e-mail bearing the Kevin 07 banner, Rudd exhorted supporters to post video messages of support on YouTube, with the best clips to feature on the www.kevin07.com.au Web site, and e-mail in photos of themselves wearing Rudd's campaign T-shirts.

The Kevin 07 Web site also carries the ALP leader's blog entries and directs supporters to join Rudd's MySpace and Facebook networks, as well as offering wallpapers and other downloads for followers.

Rudd used the site to put out a call for "digital volunteers" -- supporters that want to get involved but baulk at door-knocking -- to blog about the online campaign, sign the site's petitions and link to it from their personal blogs. "Don't forget to have your say on our blog, or spread the word on the blog sites of major newspapers and message boards. You can even e-mail a letter to your local (or national) newspaper," the site adds.

Government MPs have been quick to dismiss Rudd's online campaigning. Assistant Treasurer Peter Dutton called Rudd a "media tart" and likened him to a promo for Big Brother: "It's exciting, it's fresh and when the big night comes and people actually have a closer look and they look at the detail ... they actually realise that it's a load of crap," he said.

Julia Gillard, deputy leader employment and industrial relations and one of Rudd's MySpace buddies, supported the Web campaign, saying: "I would recommend it as a Web site. People should be at their computers clicking on and having a look."

Like his rival, Prime Minister John Howard has also been tinkering with online campaigning. The Coalition leader has his own dedicated YouTube page showing video messages -- four are currently available -- and is asking voters to post questions to him via Yahoo's Answers forums.

Howard has yet to join MySpace or Facebook, however, where Rudd now has over 5,000 supporters in his network.

One user has set up a fake Facebook profile of Howard in the name of "Australian Prime Minister". The profile, which uses the PM's picture, shows Howard's friends including "Julius Caesar" and "Yassir Arafat" [sic].