The Republican Party is becoming the first political group to have its own web domain — and the Internet will soon see website addresses that end with the suffix .gop.
"You'll see committees, organizations, grassroots, and state committees using this ending," Will Martinez, vice president of sales and marketing for .gop, told USA Today
, noting that the domain will likely be included in the campaign for the 2016 presidential primary.
The Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on state elections, set up the .gop group and says that it hopes the domain will help the party's online presence.
President Barack Obama invested twice as much as Mitt Romney's campaign in online advertising during the 2012 campaign, but also raised $504 million in online donations.
"The goal here is to really make investments and be on top of all of the newest in technology to compete with the Democrats and move up ahead of them," Republican National Committee Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski said.
Some of the expected Republican websites could be convention.gop, poll.gop, news.gop and register.gop, reports USA Today.
Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina said he is disappointed that Democrats have not done the same thing.
"It's just another thing in the toolbox to use to reach out to folks," Messina said. "As a campaign manager, all you want is more tools, and I think this is a really interesting one."
However, Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Michael Czin said the party isn't planning its own .dem domain, saying it's neither a strategy or a solution.
"Republicans didn't lose in 2008 or 2012 because people couldn't find their websites," said Czin.
In addition, Republicans will not have much control over who gets a .gop address, as users will not need to be leaders to get the domain. The Web ending will be open only to trademarked brands for 60 days, and then will be open for purchase to the public.
"We want this to be something that can connect people at all levels of the party, whether you want to start a blog and you're a teenage Republican or you're a college group and want a .gop," said Martinez.
But Alan Rosenblatt, a Democratic adviser on digital campaigns, said this strategy could be risky, given the divided state of the Republican Party.
"The Republicans are at war among themselves between the far right, the business conservatives, the social conservatives, and the moderate Republican rank," said Rosenblatt. "There is such a blurring going on in that context that it is unclear what the brand .gop will come to mean to people."
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