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What's in a Domain Name?

Gingrich, Kaine, Huntsman, and others are having domain name troubles.

photo of Carrie Mihalcik
March 17, 2011

It's not easy for politicians to control their image on the Internet, especially when their own name could be their downfall. Here's a look at some pols who are having domain name trouble:

Tim Kaine

The Democratic National Committee chairman, who says he’s "increasingly likely" to run for Senate in Virginia, may have hit a digital road bump before his campaign has even started. Going to TimKaine.com currently redirects to the website of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is a Republican. The Cuccinelli camp isn’t behind the redirect, though; the domain has been registered to conservative activist Matt Chancey since 2001. In fact, Cuccinelli is facing a similar issue. If web surfers go to KenCuccinelli.com, they’ll find an anti-Cuccinelli site that was set up during the Virginia AG campaign.

 

Newt Gingrich

The former House Speaker launched NewtExplore2012.com, a website for his exploratory committee, on March 3. Less then 24 hours later Gingrich was facing online attacks.

Web surfers who went to ExploreNewt2012.com were getting redirected to a different GOP presidential exploratory committee site, that of former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer. "We had nothing to do with that. Please, I assure you," Roemer said in an interview with National Journal’s Hotline On Call. As of Thursday, the domain is redirecting to a YouTube channel featuring videos of newts.

Going to ExploreNewt.com redirects to a May 2009 Media Matters article enumerating Gingrich's "frequent, and often egregious, falsehoods." That site was purchased by former DNC staffer Kombiz Lavasany.

Robert Menendez

BobMenendez.com isn’t the website of the Democratic senator from New Jersey – instead the site belongs to Nevada Republican Sharron Angle, who lost her 2010 Senate bid to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.  BobMenendez.com currently redirects to the website for the Senate Conservatives Fund PAC.

Jon Huntsman

The former ambassador to China doesn’t own his own domain name; as of Thursday the site is just a blank page. Huntsman, who is considered a potential Republican presidential candidate, could face more trouble from ObamasAmbassador.com. The site, owned by former DNC media operative Matt Ortega, shows a screen-filling black-and-white image of Huntsman with President Obama looming behind him. Ortega told Politico his goal was to remind Republican primary voters who can’t stand Obama “that Huntsman took a job working for him.”

Claire McCaskill

The Missouri senator was able to get control of ClaireMcCaskill.com, but it cost her $4,000. According to disclosure forms, McCaskill bought the rights to the site from 39-year old Missouri graphic designer Brennan Hobart, who saw an opportunity to make a profit as McCaskill ramps up her reelection campaign.

The White House

Legislators and presidential aspirants aren't the only ones affected by domain troubles. People trying to get to the website for the White House, which is WhiteHouse.gov, can easily get tripped up by WhiteHouse.com or WhiteHouse.org.  WhiteHouse.com used to be a pornographic site but now advertises insurance. Previously if web surfers instead went to WhiteHouse.org they were forwarded to a site poking fun of former President George W. Bush. As of Thursday the link goes to a blank page displaying an error message.

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