Site pacts with presidential commission

When Barack Obama and John McCain engage in their presidential debates, online viewers will be able to track issues, embed videos, submit questions, offer polling answers — in short, engage in just about every online innovation offered this election cycle.

MySpace and the Commission on Presidential Debates will announce a partnership today for a series of interactive features for the upcoming forums, to be featured on a new website called Mydebates.org.

“For the first time in American history, viewers of the debates will be empowered to watch the event in real time online and review candidate responses on demand,” MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe said in a statement.

Visitors to the site will be able to download tools so they can stream the debates live. One function will allow them to track a candidate’s stand on an issue throughout the live stream. Users will be polled periodically with short questions that will pop up via an icon, and clips will be available afterward on MySpace TV.

The first debate will take place in Oxford, Miss., on Sept. 26, followed by a townhall forum on Oct. 7 and a third debate on Oct. 15. Users will be able to submit questions at the Oct. 7 event. The features will be available for Oct. 2′s vice presidential debate as well.

In a sense, MySpace has been competing with other Internet sensations for a role in the presidential election process. Throughout the cycle, MySpace has co-hosted presidential forums with MTV, hosted candidate pages and conducted presidential preference polls. Facebook has co-sponsored presidential debates. And YouTube has held presidential forums, in addition to being the destination for some of the year’s most memorable and notorious campaign Web videos.

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