WASHINGTON – Democratic candidate Wesley Clark (search) is making a new pitch for donations, inviting Internet donors to his presidential campaign to predict the World Series (search) champion with their money pledge.
It's another novel way candidates are using the Web to attract political dollars and draw attention.
For those who might not favor either team in the series, such as mourning fans of the Red Sox or the Cubs (search), Clark spokeswoman Kym Spell said they can vote against either New York or Florida.
"It's just a way to have a little fun with the World Series," said Spell. "Marlin and Yankee fans tend to be pretty devoted, and we just want to give Clark supporters an opportunity to show their allegiance to their favorite baseball team."
Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, called the baseball challenge "a clever fund-raising gimmick." He said it could generate some new support for Clark, but also may have limited appeal to just Yankees or Marlins' fans.
Even so, he said, Clark has nothing to lose. "You can mount a fund-raising campaign like this around some clever idea, and if it doesn't work it really hasn't put you out a lot, unlike direct mail or phone banks," Noble said.
Rival Howard Dean has used Internet fund raising to surge ahead of all other candidates in the crowded Democratic field.
Dean raised $7.5 million over the Web in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, bringing his total take for the three-month period to almost $15 million.
Clark raised more than $3.5 million between his entry into the race in mid-September and the end of the last fund-raising quarter, and two-thirds of that money was raised over the Internet.
Clark's online baseball battle began Saturday.
The campaign was posting results of the daily contributions, indicating which team was ahead, on its Web site. The first day's take, before the Marlins' 3-2 opening-night victory Saturday, was $1,500 for the Marlins and $1,000 for the Yankees.
Some political observers weren't impressed with the new Clark pitch.
Kent Cooper, co-founder of Political Money Line, an Internet service that tracks campaign finance, said mixing politics and baseball may not win Clark much support. "I don't know if fans will appreciate a politician keeping score," said Cooper.