Dear John

John Edwards’ campaign unveiled its latest gimmick today: The chance to have Edwards, his wife, or even Joe Trippi (swoon!) call you on the phone. It’s part of “Ask John,” a new campaign meant to inform inquisitive Iowans about Edwards’ policies.  

Any question that an Iowan asks Edwards’ camp between now and the caucus is guaranteed an answer by Jan. 3. Topics can range from Iraq policy to the name of Edwards’ $400 barber. It doesn’t matter how frivolous; if you’re an Iowan, you’ll get an answer. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear from one of the bigwigs or the candidate himself.

An Edwards spokeswoman told me the campaign already gets hundreds of questions a day at their Iowa offices. This stunt is just a way to make voters aware that the campaign is actively answering questions statewide. It also dovetails nicely with reports that Hillary Clinton is refusing to answer questions from the audience on the stump, although the spokeswoman said “Ask John” had nothing to do with that. 

But here’s the strange part: Edwards has a Web site where “Iowans” can ask him questions about his platform. Last time we checked, Web sites were accessible outside of Iowa, too. The spokeswoman told me she wasn’t worried about rival supporters deluging the Web site with fake queries. They clearly weren’t paying attention to what Bruce Reed did to Mitt Romney earlier this year.

It may be a transparent maneuver, but it’s still a cool gimmick. Who wouldn’t want to talk to a presidential candidate by phone? That’s even better than Carl Kasell recording the greeting on your home answering machine .