Ten months before the first 2008 U.S. presidential primary, a video war has erupted between supporters of Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, their opening skirmish on the new campaign battleground -- the Internet.
The supporters have posted their own political versions spoofing a 1984 commercial in which Apple Computer introduced its Macintosh personal computer by attacking larger rival IBM as totalitarian.
The anti-Clinton video, dubbed "Vote Different," has been splashed across the television news and been viewed almost 1.4 million times on the popular video website YouTube since it was posted on March 5.
The anti-Obama clip, "Barack 1984," posted on the same site three days ago has had more than 250,000 viewings.
"This is the opening round," said Carol Darr, director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet at George Washington University. "The Internet is going to be the main event."
"Anything that gets the attention of millions of eyeballs -- and particularly millions of eyeballs of people who at this early stage are watching -- matters," she said, comparing the videos with the popular JibJab web videos of the 2004 campaign that poked fun at President George W. Bush and Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry.
Apple's commercial aired during the Super Bowl in 1984 and spoofed George Orwell's book "1984," which portrays a totalitarian society.
The spliced clip of Clinton shows virtual clones with shaved heads walking with military precision while she lauds the start of her presidential bid, which she has dubbed as a conversation with America.
As she speaks, armed guards chase a woman in tight shorts and a tank top through the crowd as she throws a sledgehammer shattering the screen.
"On January 14th, the Democratic Primary will begin. And you'll see why 2008 won't be like "1984," says the video, which then shows the old Apple computer logo in the form of an "O" with the Internet address for Obama's campaign below: barackobama.com.
Obama's campaign said in a statement that its employees had no knowledge of and had nothing to do with the creation of the ad. It said the office was notified on Wednesday by one of its vendors, Blue State Digital, that an employee was involved in making the video.
The employee is no longer with Blue State which also said that he did not work on the Obama campaign's account, the statement said.
Clinton has laughed off the video, suggesting it was better than her recent off-key rendition of the Star Spangled Banner national anthem that also has been shown on YouTube.
The rival clip parodies the same Apple commercial and uses a speech by Obama of Illinois to unveil his support for the Chicago Bears professional football team in the Super Bowl.
"The Bears Lost So Will Obama. Clinton for President," it said.
A spokesman for Clinton, of New York, declined comment.
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