WASHINGTON – The assignment: go forth and spin. The objective: win the battle of the post-debate polls.
Both presidential campaigns are urging supporters to go online after Tuesday's debate between Vice President Dick Cheney (search) and Sen. John Edwards (search) in the hopes of spinning the outcome in their favor.
In letters sent Tuesday, Republicans asked supporters to defeat the "Kerry campaign spin machine" while Democrats aimed for another "online coup d'etat," which they did following last week's presidential debate.
Operatives for Democratic candidate John Kerry "managed to mask their candidate's flip-flops on the war in Iraq" after the first debate, Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman wrote to supporters.
"If we plan to win the election, we must fight back against their spin and make sure our friends and neighbors get the truth," Mehlman said.
DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe (search) wants 10 minutes of would-be spinners' time.
"It is important that we double our efforts from the last debate, because the Republicans are now copying our strategy," McAuliffe said in a letter.
Both campaigns are asking supporters to vote in online polls, conducted by most major networks after the debate, write letters to the editor and spread the word, including the e-mailed call-to-arms.
Mehlman asked loyal GOPsters to print debate fact checks, post their views in message boards targeting swing-state voters, chat in person and online with would-be voters.
A candidate's performance can attract undecided voters, but what happens afterward is equally important, Mehlman said.
"People's perceptions are shaped as much by their conversations around the water coolers as by the debates themselves," the letter said.