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Site seeks to engage brides in election

  • Story Highlights
  • Nonpartisan Web site tries to humanize candidates with stories of their weddings
  • Brides-to-be can see presidential hopefuls' take on issues, discuss politics
  • Sites' users also can view photos of candidates in wedding finery
  • Health care, Iraq and abortion among heated topics on message board
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By Lauren Kornreich
CNN Washington Bureau
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(CNN) -- Did you know that Bill Clinton had to buy a house to convince Hillary Rodham to marry him? Or that GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee proposed to his wife with a pop top from a soda can?

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Mike and Janet Huckabee were both 18 when they married in Hope, Arkansas, in May 1974.

A new Web site is using stories such as these to try to humanize the candidates and provide a forum for brides-to-be to discuss politics and the upcoming elections.

BridesDecide.com, which launched a few weeks ago, targets the "bridal voting bloc demographic." The site says it hopes to attract the 12 million-plus women who frequent the two popular wedding planning Web sites, TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com.

Owned by The Knot Inc., the two Web sites started BridesDecide.com as a joint venture to encourage young women to "get engaged in the 2008 election."

The nonpartisan site offers readers fact sheets on all the presidential candidates and message boards for them to discuss their opinions on the race. The site gives users the ability to compare candidates' platforms side by side and includes links to voter registration Web sites.

"The site is aimed at young women that want to become more educated about the election," Kathleen Murray, deputy editor of BridesDecide.com said. "People want to talk about issues and politics on the message boards, so we created a place devoted to that. It encourages them to discuss everything openly and honestly with users that are in the same place in their lives."

In addition to Clinton, the Democratic senator from New York, the site has submissions from two other Democratic White House hopefuls: Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska. On the GOP side, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor, have contributed wedding photos and stories about how they met their wives.

At the site, visitors can view pictures of the Clintons as they gaze into each other's eyes on their wedding day in 1975; they can see Paul and his wife dancing at their reception in 1957 as well as catch a vintage photograph of Huckabee, an 18-year-old groom dressed to impress in a powder-blue suit.

Murray said the editors at the site have reached out to all the candidates in the hopes of obtaining the same type of submissions.

"We wanted to add a human interest touch," Murray said. "Our users talk about planning their weddings, but they are also politically active. This gives them insight into who the politicians are and shows everyone that they are people, too."

On the BridesDecide.com message boards, women discuss and debate a variety of topics. Health care, Iraq and abortion consistently lead to the most heated discussions.

So why would a young bride, in the midst of orchestrating her wedding, pick a site such as this to discuss politics? Murray said it provides a way for them to "connect with like-minded users" who are in the "same stage of their lives."

"I don't have a lot of female friends, and I'm afraid the ones I do have are sorely uninformed and disinterested when it comes to politics," one user posted on the Web site's message board. "That's one reason why I love these boards so much. ... [I]t's an opportunity for intelligent female conversation outside of my family."

Some visitors criticized the Web site, saying they were offended by the name and that they didn't need wedding pictures to judge candidates. One user called the site a "new low in stupidity and sexism."

"I thought this board was wedding-related until I read elsewhere that it's about politics," a user posted on the message board. "I love the idea of a politics board, but the title, it's awful and insulting. We're a lot more than brides, you know." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About Mike HuckabeeMike GravelDennis KucinichHillary ClintonRon Paul

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