Republicans are close to becoming the first political party to enter a new era of Internet domain name endings, as they gear up for the 2016 presidential campaigns, according to a new report.
USA TODAY reports that the Republican Party plans to launch .gop by the end of the month, as an alternative for conservative websites that may currently end with .com, .net, .org, or .gov.
"You'll see committees, organizations, grass-roots and state committees using this ending," Will Martinez, vice president of sales and marketing for .gop, told USA TODAY. "Hopefully in the lead-up to 2016 elections you'll see the presidential primary playing out on .gop."
The new digital campaigning strategy comes after a recent decision by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to allow more domain name endings. Governments, organizations and individuals can now bid for their own domain name endings, such as .gay or .nyc.
The Republican State Leadership Committee, which focuses on state elections, helped set up .gop. The new websites could include names such as poll.gop, convention.gop, campaigns.gop, house.gop, senate.gop, whitehouse.gop.
"The goal here is to really make investments and be on top of all of the newest in technology to compete with the Democrats and move up ahead of them," Republican National Committee Press Secretary Kirsten Kukowski told USA TODAY.
President Obama was more active online than his Republican competitors during his 2008 and 2012 campaigns, experts say. But Democrats do not yet have their own domain name ending, such as .dem.
This upset Obama's re-election campaign manager, Jim Messina who on Wednesday said he was "pissed" that Democrats have not followed suit with Republicans.
"It's just another thing in the toolbox to use to reach out to folks," Messina said at the "Beyond the Dot" conference. "As a campaign manager, all you want is more tools, and I think this is a really interesting one.
However ,the rest of the party didn't seem to agree with Messina. Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Czin told USA TODAY that Republicans have lost their focus and are wasting time on the new domain name ending.
"Republicans didn't lose in 2008 or 2012 because people couldn't find their websites," Czin said. "To the contrary, it's because people could figure out what they were campaigning on."