BROOKLINE, Mass.—President-elect Barack Obama may owe his election success to his television campaign, former governor and 1988 presidential candidate Michael Dukakis told a synagogue of community members last night.

In an informal lecture at the Congregation Kehillath Israel synagogue on Harvard Ave., Dukakis and three Harvard University faculty members engaged a greying audience in the effect that images have on politics. Recalling his experience with his own campaign, Dukakis said that society now depends on the media to present a candidate’s personality.

“I’m a backyard/living room kind of guy,” Dukakis said, alluding to different kinds of campaign methods. It is now harder for a politician to meet all his voters, Dukakis said, which is why a strong media image is so important.

“[Obama] ended up giving people a pretty good impression of who he was,” Dukakis said. In contrast, Dukakis noted that the publicity Republican candidate John McCain accrued worked against him as the election went on.

In contrast to Dukakis, Kiku Adatto, author of Picture Perfect: Life in the Age of the Photo Op, said that Obama’s biggest advantage came from the outlets he chose to promote his campaign. Several new media markets emerged during this election, which brought both opportunity and risk, Adatto said.

“Obama mastered the new medium,” said Adatto plainly, citing the rise of social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace, as well as viral markets such as blog networks and the popular video host, YouTube.com.

“[Obama] came out of this a lot stronger than he went in,” Dukakis said about Obama’s breadth of political experience. He concluded, saying that the media has become, and will continue to be, a powerful force in election politics.



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