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 WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Sept. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- For the first time in a

U.S. presidential campaign, the Republican and Democratic nominees are directly answering voters' questions online in an "electronic town hall" on home computers connected to telephone lines. The first position statement, by President Bush, drew some 15,000 electronic comments and questions in five days, reported Prodigy Service Company.
 Participation from the Clinton campaign begins today with a position statement that notes that "I first want to extend my personal thanks to Prodigy for arranging our participation on the service...Direct contact is the ideal method of communication among the candidates and voters...I believe that it is time for a fundamental change in the way government treats people in this country. It's time to put people first again, instead of selling them out to make powerful interests happy while our schools and towns deteriorate."
 Bush's statement says, "Now that the world looks more like America, it is time for America to look more like herself -- so we offer a philosophy that puts faith in the individual, not the bureaucracy. It's a philosophy empowering people to be their best, so America can be its best. We start with a simple fact: Government is too big and spends too much."
 The presidential campaigns are setting out their positions electronically and answering online questions posed by the general public in a way similar to that proposed by H. Ross Perot. The new feature offers Prodigy service members an opportunity to interact directly with the candidates.
 The questions and replies are what you might expect from an educated, involved electorate. Approximately 90 percent of Prodigy service members have voted in previous elections, according to online polls. Their responses to the president's first statement pull no punches.
 One member wrote to Bush, "Why not stop running against Congress and start finding a way to work with them?" Another defended the Republican campaign, writing "The Bush/Quayle team will promote growth by reducing the burdens of government on the many facets of our dynamic economy..."
 The candidates' statements and answers are being posted on an electronic bulletin board on the Prodigy service. Both candidates were offered equal access. Their participation reflects their campaign schedules.
 President Bush's first position statement was posted on Aug. 26 focusing on economic issues. This week he'll answer five questions submitted by Prodigy service members.
 Three more position statements from Bush will be posted on Sept. 9, Sept. 23 and Oct. 4. Each statement will focus on one national issue. Following each statement, his staff will select five questions, and the answers will be approved by Bush and posted the following week.
 All next week Gov. Clinton plans to answer ten questions a day. The governor's staff will select the questions from those sent in by Prodigy service members. Answers will be personally approved by the governor.
 The Prodigy service also provides extensive political information in other areas -- what the Wall Street Journal called "By far the richest political fare" among online services. There is daily news coverage of the '92 campaign, updated throughout the day, a comprehensive database on federal and state politics, regular contributions from political columnists Jack Germond and Robert Novak and "The Next President," a realistic game that stimulates a campaign.
 On election night, every member of the Prodigy service will be able to obtain updates on local Congressional races every 20 minutes simply by entering his or her ZIP code. (There's no need to remember the number of a voting district.) Full coverage of all national, House, Senate and gubernatorial races, updated continuously and available on demand, will be supplemented by expert commentary from Prodigy service political columnists.
 The Prodigy service is the nation's most-popular online service. Members sign on more than half a million times daily and post some 80,000 notes a day to more than 100 bulletin board topics. Prodigy Service Membership Kits are sold in more than 17,000 retail outlets. Prodigy maintains a consumer-service information number to locate the nearest dealer: 1-800-PRODIGY.
 -0- 9/4/92
 /CONTACT: Steve Hein of Prodigy Services Company, 914-993-8789/ CO: Prodigy Services Company ST: New York IN: SU:

SH-OS -- NY009 -- 6836 09/04/92 10:00 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 4, 1992

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