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Republican 'Young Guns' hit the Silicon Valley trail

September 26, 2011|By Michael Muskal | Los Angeles Times
  • President Obama gets comfortable during an appearance with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg at the company's headquarters in Palo Alto earlier this year. Top Republicans visited the social networking company on Monday for a similar town hall-style session.
President Obama gets comfortable during an appearance with Facebook Chief… (Jim Young / Reuters )

Technology. It’s not just for Democrats any more.

While President Obama is busy in Silicon Valley trying to sell his jobs package and raising money during a campaign-style swing, Republicans are also trying to make their own electron tracks through the politically cloudy universe of the new technology.

A trio of GOP House leaders on Monday will join an online conversation at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, where they will take questions beginning at 3 p.m. Pacific time in front of an audience of employees and guests.

If that looks familiar, it is. It is the same format that President Obama has used.

Not overly surprisingly, a few hours earlier , at 11 a.m. Pacific time, Obama attended a town hall-style meeting in Mountain View, Ca., presented by LinkedIn, the professional networking website.

The three Republicans — Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — will pitch their new conservative vision, outlined in their book, “Young Guns: A New Generation of Conservative Leaders.” For the trio, the Facebook forum is a chance to connect with a younger generation of voters.

Of course, at this point it is impossible to be in politics without having already dealt with technology and the communication power it represents for contacting and organizing specific voting blocs. All three Republicans have worked with technology before. Cantor launched YouCut, which let people use the Web to deal with possible federal budget cuts; McCarthy launched WhipCast, a BlackBerry application; and Ryan has worked on Web videos that dramatize the budget crisis and promote his solutions.

Because it is the communication medium while the politicians are merely the message, technology companies, rather than Republicans and Obama, will probably be the nonpartisan winners.

On Sunday night, Obama headlined a fundraiser at the Atherton, Ca., home of Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who will host the Republicans' appearance on Monday.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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