Internet

Presidential Pranks

The Democratic National Committee has turned to the Internet to take on Mitt Romney’s tax cut promises by launching RomneyTaxPlan.com. The interactive site appears, at first, to be an official Romney campaign site, but it quickly becomes apparent that the opposite is true.

The simple interface features Romney’s official campaign logo and slogan, “Believe in America” and text that urges visitors to “click the button below” to learn the details of the Romney-Ryan tax plan that proposes to cut taxes by $5 trillion. When a user tries to click the red button that reads, “Get the details,” the button keeps moving, impossible to click on, a clear jab at Romney’s tendency to evade details, as the Obama campaign alleges.

A few seconds later, an edit to the slogan changes it to “Believe in half of America,” referencing Romney’s much-maligned comment about “not caring about” 47 percent of the country. The site openly states that it was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and hosts a link for visitors to donate to the Democratic Party. While text at the bottom states, “This communication is not authorized by any candidate,” the site links to BarackObama.com for his campaign’s information on Romney’s proposed tax plan.

RomneyTaxPlan.com is the latest creative use of websites and domain names during this presidential race, following the Romney campaign’s highly publicized use of ObamaIsntWorking.com. WHOIS records for RomneyTaxPlan.com show that it was registered to Domains By Proxy, LLC in October 2011 but updated as recently as last week. The Democratic National Committee either had the foresight to register the domain nearly a year ahead of time, or the owner of the domain is allowing the group to use it. Regardless, the Committee openly claims responsibility for creating the site.

While not an explicit example of identity squatting (an issue CADNA reports on during election seasons – the most recent report is available here), this site certainly takes some liberties in terms of using Romney’s campaign materials. With only about three weeks until the election, more sites are likely to pop up. Mere days after the most recent debate, there are already numerous sites and social media pages that have emerged around Romney’s “Binders Full of Women” gaffe. It will be interesting to see what other digital tricks the campaigns and their respective supporters have up their sleeves.

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