Google Monday launched a new project that allows Internet users to follow stories read by presidential candidates Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) in the Google Reader RSS tool.

Called “Google Power Readers In Politics” and getting a rare boost with publicity on Google’s main search page, the service lets users keep up with news stories and blog posts the candidates are reading, Google said. The service, launched with the cooperation of the campaigns, also lets users add the McCain or Obama reading lists to their own Reader feeds, the company added.

“We’re reading a lot about the candidates and the media this election season. But what are they reading,” Google noted in a blog post. “Now you can track the news sites and blogs Barack Obama and John McCain read (from Drudge to The Daily Show) and follow articles catching the eyes of leading political journalists.”

The site also will track the Reader lists of various political journalists including Mike Allen from Politico, Arianna Huffington from the Huffington Post and Ruth Marcus from the Washington Post.

Late Monday afternoon, for example, McCain was following a story about his national security experience related to the ongoing conflict between Georgia and Russia while Obama had read an article about his two millionth donor. Obama’s RSS reading list included ESPN, NBA.com, local Chicago newspapers, his own blog, Daily Kos, Think Progress and The Daily Show. McCain’s list also had local news and sports Web sites as well as The National Review, the Drudge Report, the U.S. Navy’s home site and Fox News.

Adam Ostrow, a blogger at Mashable, noted that while the stories shared in the Reader project likely will be as “carefully crafted” by the campaigns as the candidates’ television commercials and speeches, Google should receive credit for putting together an interesting project that may pull in more Reader users along the way.

“Power Readers in Politics is obviously quite timely given the upcoming elections, but launching similar efforts for other topics like sports and entertainment would be a great way for Google Reader to potentially find new audiences,” Ostrow added. “Considering hundreds of thousands of people ‘friend’ celebrities on social networks, letting users subscribe to their favorite athletes and entertainer’s reading lists in Google Reader seems like a slam dunk.”

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