WASHINGTON – They're young, eager and looking to be adopted - sort of. They're Dennis Kucinich (search)'s interns.
Supporters of the Democratic hopeful can "Adopt an Intern" by pledging monthly donations to specific interns featured on the campaign Web site. Donors will receive e-mails, audio postcards and even phone calls from their adopted interns, depending on their level of support.
"There may be some rivalries here, to see who brings in the most money, not that they get to pocket it," campaign spokesman David Swanson said of the program that began Friday.
Money raised through the program will help fund the $400 monthly stipend each intern receives, with extra funds going for new participants, Swanson said. There are 13 interns so far in Ohio, Iowa and New Hampshire. Most live in group houses paid for by the campaign, he said.
Kucinich's Web site features three Cleveland-based interns. Visitors select an intern and decide their level of contribution. "Best friends" donate between $10 and $24 a month, "parents" give between $50 and $99 monthly. Anything over $100 earns a "guardian angel" title.
The Kucinich campaign has tried a variety of fund-raising tactics, including asking donors to help fund lawn signs in New Hampshire and Iowa, Swanson said.
"I think that people have their own particular priorities that they see for campaigns and they enjoy knowing what exactly their money is going to," Swanson said.
Reached on her way to a Kucinich event, Amy Kaplan said she enjoyed being an intern for Kucinich, working on strategies to mobilize young voters. The 22-year-old from Ann Arbor, Mich., said, however, "it feels weird to have my face on a presidential campaign."
"But it's all in the interest of getting a very important message out there so I'm willing to do what it takes," she said.
Federal law limits campaign donations (search) to $2,000 per person. Kucinich hopes to match some of the donations with federal money under the public campaign finance system.
The most recent fund-raising figures show Kucinich has raised $3.35 million, placing him above former Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun and Rev. Al Sharpton. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean leads the Democratic presidential candidates with $25.4 million, followed by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts with $20 million.