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Trading Domain Names For A Day With The Candidates


Last month, Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes declared she'll run against minority leader, Mitch McConnell for the U.S. Senate.

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES: ...Kentucky by running for the U.S. Senate.


SIMON: Her candidacy had been rumored for months. The obvious Web domain name, Grimesforsenate.com, had already been purchased. But not by the Grimes' campaign. By a man who's a kind of political hobbyist.

MICHAEL DEUTSCH: I check to see if that name was available, Grime for Senate, and also Alison for senate and they both were available, and it takes a minute or two and a $10 credit card bill and the domains are mine.


SIMON: That's Michael Deutsch. He doesn't work in politics, but he's the kind of guy who watches CSPAN every day, not just when Angelina Jolie or George Clooney testify on Capitol Hill. For more than a decade, Mr. Deutsch has been buying domain names to political campaigns before they can and he offers those campaigns a deal. He doesn't want money, though he's taken it a couple of times. He wants to spend a day on the trail with the candidate.

DEUTSCH: The things that are deadly dull to people in Washington are fascinating to outsiders.

SIMON: Alison Grimes' team hasn't replied yet, but his plan has worked in the past. Take his day with Joe Lieberman in 2004 when the campaign bus pulled up to a fish market.

DEUTSCH: And the proprietor wanted to give to him two large fish as a gift, and the campaign has to evaluate whether he was permitted to accept them under the campaign finance rules. That took some time. And this also happened in the summer, so it was quite warm and the question is what do you do with two large fish? And he wound up having one of the campaign workers take those fish home to be prepared for dinner.

SIMON: Michael Deutsch feasts on such anecdotes. He's a registered Republican but he's struck bargains with candidates of both parties, and sometimes when candidates don't respond, he keeps the domain and just posts his own views. Even today, when you go to McCain2008.com, you'll find an unflattering magazine profile of Senator John McCain left there by Mr. Deutsch. He says some campaigns have called him...

DEUTSCH: Some not very nice names, some names that I wouldn't tell my mother.

SIMON: He knows politics can be rough, but he got hooked early.

DEUTSCH: I'm pretty old, so that I remember in 1956 Senator Stevenson giving his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention on TV. I mean, that's how far back this goes. I was involved with Students for Kennedy back in the '60s. I remember shaking John Kennedy's hand at one rally.

SIMON: And how lucky was Senator Kennedy that, back then, he didn't need a website.


SIMON: This is NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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