February 25th, 2009
05:25 AM ET
6 years ago

Members of Congress twitter through Obama's big speech

President Obama inspired a flurry of tweets on Tuesday night.
President Obama inspired a flurry of tweets on Tuesday night.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Members of Congress twittered their way through President Obama's nationally televised speech Tuesday night, providing a first-of-its-kind running commentary that took users of the social networking site inside the packed House chamber.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, began sending tweets from the House chamber nearly two hours before the speech, commenting on the staffers assigned to set up the president's teleprompters.

"One tele-prompter appears broken. Still 1.5 hours to go but I bet they are nervous," he wrote from the seventh row of the chamber, where he said he was sitting next to Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona.

As the speech neared, more members of Congress reached for their mobile devices and signed into their Twitter accounts, typing missives to their followers.

Texas Republican Michael C. Burgess spent his time examining the president's prepared remarks. "Not much healthcare in tonight's speech it seems," he tweeted while waiting for the President to arrive.

Montana Republican Denny Rehberg said the excitement in the room was palpable. "Waiting to hear Barack," he wrote. "Place is on fire." South Carolina's Gresham Barrett tweeted that the "Capitol is buzzing."

Rep. John Culberson of Texas, a prolific twitterer and one of the first members of Congress to embrace the technology, not only tweeted from the chamber ("TV lights are so bright I could get a suntan") but also sent live video updates to the site Qik.com as he hustled his way to the Capitol.

Though Republicans have proven themselves more eager to tweet than their colleagues on the other side of the aisle, some tech-savvy Democrats were also offering play-by-play as the night unfolded.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, sent out a flurry of tweets during the evening. "One doesn't want to sound snarky, but it is nice not to see Cheney up there," he remarked just before the speech.

"Obama enters," Blumenauer wrote after the House Sergeant-at-Arms announced the President's entrance. "Crowd goes wild. Members taking pictures. McCain and Lindsey Graham. What a picture."

Democrat Claire McCaskill, perhaps the most avid Twitter user in the Senate, was excited to see Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg appear following her pancreatic cancer operation.

"I did big wooohoo for Justice Ginsberg [sic]," McCaskill wrote. "She looks good."

Despite the bipartisan merriment in the room before the speech began, there appeared to be some grousing in one Republican congressman's office.

"Aggie basketball game is about to start on espn2 for those of you that aren't going to bother watching pelosi smirk for the next hour," read a tweet on Texas Rep. Joe Barton's page, referring to Texas A&M's game against Nebraska.

Minutes later, that message disappeared, replaced with the disclaimer: "Disregard that last tweet from a staffer." That note was also deleted after several minutes.

And though many twittering Republicans cheered the new President as he entered the chamber, they weren't necessarily fans of Obama's speech. "Hold onto your wallet America," Culberson quipped.

Others simply stopped twittering when the speech began, citing manners. "Can't take pics on the floor, and it would be impollite [sic] to livetweet," wrote Jared Polis, the Colorado Democrat.

Still, Twitter proved that even members of Congress can be a bit starstruck - and not just by President Obama.

"Capt Sully is here - awesome!," tweeted Culberson.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. BKB

    Obama hit it out of the park. To Jindal we don't want your Katrina style recovery. You don't send a volunteer fire department to a five alarm fire!

    February 24, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  2. David Newport, OR

    When a congressman can't even give the President enough respect to call him Mr. President tells me everything I need to know about Montana Republican Denny Rehberg.

    February 24, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  3. sherryscoobydoo

    ive tryed to twitt but is is hard to figure out some.

    February 24, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  4. Amazed

    Just inspiring. Thank you Mr. President.

    February 24, 2009 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  5. Little too late????

    The 'stimulus package' was too important for them to read. Mr Obama's speaking and they are 'tweeting'...?

    Here is something they should have 'tweeted':

    "EVERYBODY...Pay no attention to the man behind the teleprompter. STAND UP WHEN NANCY STANDS UP! She will keep you safe!! Now, back to Twitter on the Blackberry/iPhone to see how cool you all are on national television during the 'state of the union'...you dudes/dudettes rock!!!"

    God help us all.

    February 24, 2009 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  6. Mia

    Did anyone fall asleep with their eyes open, zone out and/or just stand and clap because everyone else was doing it?

    February 24, 2009 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  7. rick

    This was a great speech. I am so dissapointed in learning that Bobby Jindal spoke in opposition to the President of the United States. Shame on you Mr. Governor. Shame on you for not taking a positive position in support of our leader. I wondered about you when you did not run for President yourself and now I can see your true colors. The country needs unity like never before and no thanks to you we still have a very long way to go. Sorry Bobby you did not impress me with your speech. You appeared to be nothing but a big fake.

    February 24, 2009 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  8. Thank you President Obama

    oh the technology revolution..ha ha ha...i hope they stay twittering through 2016

    February 24, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  9. Obama 2.0

    Jindal reminded me of a wet ,cold, scared little terrior.

    February 24, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  10. Larry

    Obama did a good job of campaigning ,he said what Clinton and others told him to say,but he didn't really tell anything that was different or new from what he's been saying.

    February 24, 2009 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  11. texas teacher

    Obama was brilliant, of course! :) We all knew he would be, he is such an orator!

    It was fun to watch the Repubs forced to stand and clap much more than I suspect they wanted to, but would have looked totally crase (hope I spelle that correctly) had they NOT stood and clapped to those of us out in TV land! All and all it was a pretty good show! The Repub rebuttal made absolutely NO sense whatsoever! I mean... seriously!

    February 24, 2009 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  12. montag

    Let the Republicans continue to tweet their way into that special place in Hell that is reserved just for them,

    Listening to the GOP criticize Obama's plans is a lot like getting marriage counseling from O.J. Simpson.

    February 24, 2009 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  13. Fort Worth, Tx

    Joe Barton complaining about "pelosi's smirk" even before she came out. More Repuglican partisan attacks instead of working to address the serious problems of the country. Barton has shamed his district and himself with such a snide irrevelant remark. For that, Barton should resign immediately and give someone else a chance to serve.

    February 24, 2009 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  14. Bob

    Look how the Democrats have inspired Republicans to this day and time. That is funny. They are still behind.

    February 24, 2009 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  15. Kathy

    How funny!! No body watched. Guess they thought like me. It's all a pack of lies.

    February 24, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  16. alvino

    The republicans twitter while the country is in crisis.

    February 24, 2009 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  17. Michael

    I'd like to ask the economic gurus who are fearfull of the debt we are building for our children.

    If we don't attack the problems now, when they gets worst, (and they will if we do nothing), how will our children be effective in attacking greater problems later. Are you suggesting the great thinkers of today are inferior?

    The sooner you identify cancer and begin attacking it, wouldn't you have a greater chance of defeating it, or should we wait until its too late. Consider the costs, (money and health), in preventive medicine. Wouldn't the costs be greater if you act later?

    February 24, 2009 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  18. John

    It's one thing to catch up with technology but another thing to respect the president while giving such speech to the nation.
    This just shows how republicans are desperated and their only strategy is to distract the nation.
    I'm with the president after this speech !

    February 24, 2009 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  19. A Woman In California For Obama

    Bravo Mr. President!

    Well done.

    February 24, 2009 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  20. Xavier, Atlanta Georgia

    The president doing a good job lifting our confidence while republicans working hard to make sure any plan the president propose does fail.
    Bobby Ginger did not put any new republican plan but only repeat the same old Bush plan that got us here.
    It's good to oppose but with no plan "republicans will remain Bush"

    February 24, 2009 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  21. Kathy

    The scariest part of the Presidents speech was.......Pelosi-was she having "moments" during the speech?? For a while there,I was wondering if she would be able to contain herself.
    And as far as not ...messing with Biden--O please, let;s get real

    As far as the speech--heard it all before-he is STILL in campaign mode......its STILL l all about HIM....no matter what he says and would like us all to believe.

    It's easy to "push all the right emotional buttons" in this economy-
    While I wish him well, I believe he is setting us up for failure.

    February 24, 2009 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  22. AUC

    AWESOME!!!! God bless President Obama and may God continue to bless the United States of America inspite of the negative naysayers and "haters".

    What a "breath of fresh air" to have an intelligent man in the White House again!!!!!!

    February 24, 2009 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  23. EC

    The Republicans are TWEETERS???

    Is this a JOKE or something? They NOW seem to have a lot of wasted TIME and energy to "tweet" instead of coming up with with a healthcare reform or economic recovery plan!!

    Ahhhh but YES, they have a lot of time to tweet, tweet, tweet about stupid things like bright lights and how the place is "buzzing" in the capital. Are you KIDDING ME? This is the party that we are suppose to trust to LEAD us out of this economic hell hole? Thanks, but HELL NO!!

    It's NO WONDER why the GOP accomplished absolutely nothing but chaos and reckless spending for 8 long years, they did NOTHING but tweet their lazy butts all day long on stupid things rather than HELPING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!!!! Such Cowards.

    February 24, 2009 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  24. Perusing-through

    THANKS PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR CLARITY, , , BUT , , ,
    . . . can't say same about Gov. Jindal's repsonse. It was just more of the same GOP garbage. Nothing authentic, no real solutions. It was the same old:
    1] GOV'T IS BAD, PEOPLE ARE GOOD;
    2] GOV'T IS BAD, MARKET IS GOOD;
    3] GOV'T IS CORRUPT, PEOPLE ARE HONEST;
    4] GOV'T IS DUMB, MARKET IS SMART;
    5] GOV'T SPENDS, PEOPLE SAVE;
    Enough already!!! If the market was good, and people were frugal and saved money, we would not have all these home foreclosures!

    February 25, 2009 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  25. DNC must change.

    His speech just touched lightly my emotional. A great speaker can not be economic president of USA. Obama's glorious inauguration's day, the day Tim unveiled rescue plan of Banks, Obama enunciated of the Bill of Stimulus package and Obama signed on the Bill, stock markets plunged totally 1,000 point more. Let me scrutinize stock market tomorrow. You know, Citi bank's stock marked for $2.75 which you can buy ice cream. I really hope that the market will start good shape tomorrow.

    February 25, 2009 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
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