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Inside Politics

Source behind Internet attack on Clinton revealed

Story Highlights

• Phillip de Vellis, an Obama supporter, says he made the ad
• His identity was revealed on The Huffington Post, a popular blog
De Vellis' former employer works with presidential campaigns
• Clip attacks Sen. Clinton; is remake of Apple ad from 1984
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The mystery behind who produced an elaborate Internet ad slamming Sen. Hillary Clinton and promoting Sen. Barack Obama has been solved.

Phillip de Vellis, a Democrat and Obama supporter, said he made the video "because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process." (Watch who is behind the video Video)

"This shows that the future of American politics rests in the hands of ordinary citizens," de Vellis wrote on the popular blog "The Huffington Post," where his identity was first discovered and reported.

The "Vote Different" clip is a remake of an Apple computer ad from 1984, which in turn was a take on George Orwell's "1984." (Watch how the video may mark a historic shift in political ads Video)

In the spot, Clinton is cast as Big Brother, and excerpts of her speeches mesmerize a uniform, catatonic audience. As the audience files into a theater, a young woman carrying a sledgehammer runs up the aisle and throws it at the video screen, shattering it.

The ad ends with a message reading, "On January 14, the Democratic primary will begin. And you'll see why 2008 won't be like '1984.' "

The screen then dissolves to a colorful "O" that resembles an Apple logo, with the Internet address "" beneath.

"The specific point of the ad was that Obama represents a new kind of politics, and that Sen. Clinton's 'conversation' is disingenuous. And the underlying point was that the old political machine no longer holds all the power," de Vellis wrote in his post.

De Vellis published the video under the moniker ParkRidge 47 -- apparently a reference to Clinton, who was born in 1947 in Park Ridge, Illinois.

"I made the ad on a Sunday afternoon in my apartment using my personal equipment (a Mac and some software), uploaded it to YouTube, and sent links around to blogs," his post said. (Watch Clinton thankful for taking attention away from her singing Video)

De Vellis was an employee with Blue State Digital, an Internet company that provides technology to presidential campaigns, including Obama's. De Vellis said he resigned from the company "so as not to harm them, even by implication." The company issued a statement Wednesday, saying he was terminated.

"Pursuant to company policy regarding outside political work or commentary on behalf of our clients or otherwise, Mr. de Vellis has been terminated from Blue State Digital effective immediately.

"Mr. de Vellis created this video on his own time. It was done without the knowledge of management, and was in no way tied to his work at the firm or our formal engagement [on technology pursuits] with the Obama campaign."

The company said it is under contract with Obama's campaign for technology pursuits, but it is not currently engaged in a relationship with the campaign for services. One of Blue State Digital's founding partners is, however, on leave to work directly with Obama's campaign headquarters.

The company told Obama's camp Wednesday evening that de Vellis was behind the clip. The senator's camp then issued a statement and said they had no knowledge of the ad and had nothing to do with its creation.

Obama told CNN's "Larry King Live" on Monday the video was something they didn't "have the technical capacity to create."

"One of the things about the Internet is that people generate all kinds of stuff. In some ways, it's the democratization of the campaign process, but it's not something that we had anything to do with or were aware of," Obama said, before de Vellis' identity was revealed.

Michah Sifry, editor of, which monitors the nexus of technology and presidential politics, e-mailed ParkRidge 47 before his identity was known and got a response that said, "I want this ad to speak for itself, I'm not going to say who I am."

"But they obviously thought of this as a grass-roots attack on Hillary Clinton," Sifry said.

The grass-roots element the Internet is bringing to the campaign process is what is really drawing attention.

"This is an historic shift from a world in which a few important media outlets kind of control the dialogue to a game where anyone can play," said Howard Kurtz, the media critic for The Washington Post and host of CNN's "Reliable Sources."

De Vellis' post echoed that sentiment: "This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed."

An Internet ad shows Sen. Hillary Clinton giving excerpts of her speeches to a mesmerized audience.




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