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Wednesday
Jul272011

WH Holds 'Office Hours,' But This Isn’t Your Usual TA Meeting

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Confused about this whole debt ceiling/deficit reduction negotiation and how it will affect you?  Well, if you’re looking to Obama’s White House to help sort it out for you, they’re offering “Office Hours.”  Yep, that’s right, it’s kinda like college, without the waiting in the hallway for a professor/teaching assistant/grad student who may or may not show up.  Only the office is on Twitter. And these aren’t TAs.

In another outreach effort to flex the White House’s interactive nature, National Economic Council members Brian Deese and Jason Furman will be typing away all this week responding to queries live on Twitter.  The working title for this effort? “Budget Wonks Unite.”

“We're trying something new on our social networks,” blogs Kori Schulman.

Deese, who is the deputy director of the NEC, took the first round Tuesday and answered questions for just over an hour, though it must be frustrating trying to get a complex administration policy answer on a complex economic and political issue into 140 characters. Deese, however, found some wiggle room, adding links to longer explanations to the Twitter response.

Up next, NEC Principle Deputy Director Furman took a crack at it Wednesday evening.  The pair will continue to take turns through Friday.  

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Karl Rove, Claire McCaskill Spar Days After Rove's Ads Air Against Her

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(ST. LOUIS) -- Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Republican strategist Karl Rove bumped into each other at the St. Louis Airport Monday afternoon, just 10 days after Rove launched an ad campaign targeting the senator.

“Just gave Karl Rove a wave & friendly hi in St Louis airport. Even tho he's up on TV distorting my record, still wanted to show good manners,” McCaskill, D-Mo., tweeted Monday afternoon.

Rove replied about an hour later, tweeting “Saw @clairecmc @ St Louis airport -- she waved but wasn’t happy. Must be @crossroadsgps ads on her bad votes/broken promises 2 cut spending.”

The ad was part of a $20 million ad buy from Crossroad GPS, a conservative group linked to Rove. The 30-second spot opens with a clip of McCaskill saying, “The debt is a real problem. The deficit is a real problem.”

Then a narrator says, “Oh really senator? You voted for skyrocketing debt, the failed stimulus and Obamacare.”

McCaskill is one of five Democratic senators targeted by the Crossroads GPS ads. The group unveiled Monday that it will target 10 House Democrats in a new buy that totals $1.4 million. The ad aims to negatively impact public perception of Democrats’ stance on the debt and deficit.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul182011

Twitter Followings Shed Light on GOP 2012 Field

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With the GOP 2012 horserace well underway, here’s a snapshot of what we know about the field based on the candidates' Twitter followings and integration of the social networking tool into their campaigns:

  • Newt Gingrich has an audience, the largest of the GOP field at 1.3 million, but it’s growing at an anemic pace -- the worst of the field in week-over-week adds.  The former House Speaker won fewer than 100 new followers last week, fewer than any other candidate.
  • Jon Huntsman is no Twitter star. He’s averaging about a tweet a day, since he activated his account a month ago.  And with a following of 6,261, he’s the last in the GOP pack.
  • Michele Bachmann’s Twitter trend reflects her appeal among the conservative grassroots: She’s the only candidate to post consistent weekly growth above 1 percent of her following, which now stands at more than 62,000.
  • Herman Cain has been the most active tweeter over the last three months. His following – 49,000 – puts him smack dab in the middle of Pawlenty and Romney.
  • Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney: The two former governors began the race with similarly sized followings, but Pawlenty has since seen the steepest drop off in weekly percent growth of his base since he launched his presidential bid.  He trails Romney in the supporters race by roughly 15,000 followers.


Does any of this matter?  Yes, says University of Minnesota political communications professor and social media expert Heather LaMarre.  “But it’s not how much you tweet, it’s how much you can get those followers to re-tweet and push out your message for you,” she said.

LaMarre’s research from the 2010 cycle also found a small but statistically significant relationship between the number of a political figure’s followers and winning an election.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul062011

Obama Holds First Presidential Twitter Town Hall

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In some of his harshest language to date in the fight over the deficit, President Obama warned Wednesday that the debt ceiling should not be “used as a gun” against Americans to extract tax breaks for the wealthy.
 
Speaking at the Twitter Town Hall at the White House Wednesday, the president said Congress “shouldn’t be toying” with the debt ceiling and cautioned against risking the financial health of the country in order to protect the interests of the super wealthy.  
 
The president was adamant that when it comes to fixing the economy and solving the deficit problem “we should go with what works,” and that’s a tax increase on the wealthy, he said.
 
“If the wealthiest among us -- and I include myself in this category -- are willing to give up a little bit more, then we can solve this problem.  It does not take a lot… when people say, you know, 'job-killing tax increases, that's what Obama's proposing,' we're not going to,” he said. “You're entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.  And the facts are that a modest increase for wealthy individuals is not shown to have an adverse impact on job growth.”
 
The president stressed that a balanced approach is necessary to reach an agreement to raise the country’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by Aug. 2 and that both sides will have to give a little.
 
The president also responded to Republican criticism about the slow pace of economic recovery, specifically, a tweet from House Speaker John Boehner asking, “where are the jobs?”
 
“John's the Speaker of the House, he's a Republican, and so this is a slightly skewed question. But what he's right about is that we have not seen fast enough job growth relative to the need,” Obama conceded.
 
Despite the nation’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate, the president touted that his administration has created two million jobs in the private sector over the past 15 months, and highlighted several initiatives including the payroll tax that was passed in December and other tax cuts to small businesses.
 
The president did admit that he’s made a few mistakes in handling the recession. “I think people may not have been prepared for how long this was going to take and why we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions and choices … and I take responsibility for that because, you know, setting people's expectations is part of how you end up being able to respond well,” Obama said.
 
During the roughly hour-long event, the president responded to 24 tweets, answering 17 questions and reacting to seven responses to his comments on issues ranging from welfare and immigration, to housing and education.
 
The president, who just started tweeting himself a few weeks ago, started off the event by tweeting his own question. “In order to reduce the deficit,what costs would you cut and what investments would you keep -- bo,” Obama posted on the @whitehouse Twitter feed, which currently has over 2.25 million followers.
 
While questions from around the country were asked in Twitter’s 140-character limit, the president was given ample time to answer his questions orally. “I know, Twitter, I'm supposed to be short,” the president joked at one point, before continuing on with a lengthy answer about education.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Twitter to Control Questions at Wednesday's Presidential Town Hall

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At the first presidential Twitter town hall Wednesday, President Obama will field a range of questions that are out of the White House’s hands and under Twitter’s control, the White House said Tuesday.

While Obama would like to focus the conversation on jobs and the economy, “ultimately the decision over what questions are asked and … the moderation of the event falls to Twitter,” White House Director of New Media Macon Phillips told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. Twitter will choose the questions based on the themes and “hot topics” they see among the submitted questions.  

“The scope of the questions and the actual questions that are asked are in the hands of Twitter to decide and we’re looking forward to hearing a wide variety of viewpoints,” Phillips said. “What we’re going to see tomorrow is an event that has a little bit of separation from the White House where we aren’t picking questions for the president to ask but we’re working with other groups who can facilitate a conversation between the president and Americans across the country.”

From the looks of it, the president should brace himself for questions on a wide array of topics. So far thousands of questions have poured into the #AskObama hash tag ranging from unemployment and the deficit, to Afghanistan and Libya and the legalization of marijuana.

While questions must be asked in the 140 character limit imposed by Twitter, the president will have free range in his answers. Shortened summaries of Obama’s responses will be posted to @townhall.

Twitter co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey will read the questions and the president will offer his responses to an audience of 140 in the East Room of the White House, although the majority of the questions will come from Twitter users across the country, not from within the room.

Roughly 30 members of the audience will be Twitter followers from across the nation picked through the White House’s “Tweetup” page.  The VIPs will live tweet the event and get a chance to meet with senior policy officials afterwards, according to the White House.

Although @BarackObama has well over 8 million followers, the president himself is new to social media; he sent his first tweet a little over two weeks ago. Obama isn’t the only one jumping into the Twitterverse. Vice President Joe Biden took the plunge earlier this week.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul052011

Obama Assassination Rumors Circulate on Fox News Politics Twitter

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hackers briefly gained control of the Fox News Politics Twitter Monday morning to wrongly proclaim that President Obama had been assassinated in Iowa.

The first few bogus tweets were posted with "@BarackObama" and only showed up in timelines of those who follow Fox News and the presidential account.

One of the tweets read: "We wish @joebiden the best of luck as our new President of the United States. In such a time of madness, there's light at the end of the tunnel."

Earlier, another post read, "@BarackObama has just passed. Nearly 45 minutes ago, he was shot twice in the lower pelvic area and in the neck; shooter unknown. Bled out."

The identity of the hacker or group that hijacked the Fox News Politics Twitter is unknown, although several published reports stated that an anonymous hacking group known as Script Kiddies claimed responsibility for the tweets.

FoxNews.com issued a statement on its website, saying, "Hackers sent out several malicious and false Tweets claiming that President Obama had been assassinated.  Those reports are incorrect, of course, and the president is spending the July 4 holiday with his family.  The hacking is being investigated, and FoxNews.com regrets any distress the false tweets may have created."

The Secret Service is investigating the incident as a possible threat to the president.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul042011

Official Vice President Twitter Account Launched

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Joe Biden has joined the “twitterverse.”

Well, not the vice president himself, but the Office of the Vice President is now on twitter, tweeting under the moniker @VP, officials said Monday.

The Twitter account will be used to keep followers informed about all things happening in the Vice President’s office, and will include happenings from the West Wing, the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the Office of Dr. Jill Biden, according to a release posted on the White House Blog.

The new Twitter account comes in the lead up to the first ever “Twitter Town Hall,” which takes place on Wednesday and will be hosted by President Obama.

The first tweet from the account on Monday carried the following message: “VP & Dr. B hope you take time to think about our troops & military families this Independence Day, Happy 4th from OVP! @JoiningForces”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Obama to Host First Presidential Twitter Townhall

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Just ten days after sending his first tweet, President Obama is ready to personally field questions from users of the social media service, the White House said Thursday.

Obama will hold the first presidential Twitter townhall on July 6 at 2 p.m. ET, the administration said in a message to followers from the White House account.  The live event will be tagged “#AskObama.”

But the conversation won't be wide-ranging, the administration suggested.  Obama will only field questions on the economy and jobs.

The announcement comes as Obama seeks to engage with younger, tech-savvy voters in an effort to re-energize their support for his re-election campaign.

Last week, Obama began tweeting from his account -- @BarackObama -- attaching his initials ‘BO’ to the end of his messages to signify that he wrote them himself.

Obama’s Twitter and Facebook accounts recently shifted to campaign mode, featuring the president’s likeness emblazoned with his 2012 campaign logo.  They’re also now officially managed by his campaign staff, not the White House.  

President Obama has amassed more than 8.9 million followers on Twitter and 21.8 million Facebook “fans” – followings which dwarf that of his Republican challengers for 2012.

But Republicans recently announced a major Twitter event of their own: the first online presidential debate on Twitter.  Candidates will spar with each other in 140-character increments during the July 20 event, which can be followed at Twitter.com and 140townhall.com.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun222011

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Pulls a George W. Bush

Governor [dot] State [dot] Tx [dot] us(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Maybe he can blame it on the Texas drawl, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry had a mispronunciation gaffe over the weekend, mistaking the social networking site Twitter for “Tweeter.”

In a video shown at the Right Online conference in Minneapolis this past weekend, Perry told the bloggers and social networkers, “You can always follow me on Tweeter.”

Several reporters have noted that Perry acts and sounds a lot like fellow Texan George W. Bush -- and now it looks like he mispronounces just as Bush did.

President Bush had a penchant for mispronouncing words, such as “new-cue-lar,” or adding extra syllables to words, such as “misunderestimate.”  And don’t forget, Bush coined the phrase “the Internets” in a debate with Al Gore in October 2000.

As Perry mulls a leap onto the national stage, we’ll see if the Texas governor adopts any of Bush’s mispronunciations into his Texan lexicon.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun212011

Twitterer in Chief: Obama Starts Tweeting

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- With just 122 characters, President Obama has officially become the first president to tweet while in office.

Although his 2008 victory proved his skill at using social media for political gain, it wasn't until this weekend that Obama finally sent his first tweet -- well, the first one that he's personally written, at least.

"Being a father is sometimes my hardest but always my most rewarding job. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. -BO," the president tweeted Sunday.

From now on, the president's initials attached to the end of any message on the @BarackObama account will signify that the president wrote it himself, not a staffer, his campaign announced last week.

There is even a new caveat posted at the top of the account, which is specifically devoted to the president's reelection and decorated with the Obama 2012 campaign logo.  "This account is run by #Obama2012 campaign staff. Tweets from the President are signed -BO," it reads.

The @whitehouse account continues to be for official White House tweets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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