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. Heidi

    I think that the Republicans with twittering that we are dead!!! Wake up, and see that all of us are Americans and need to put up or shut up

    February 25, 2009 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  2. common sense

    "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."

    VERY PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIOR. Glad I'm not a Texan.

    February 25, 2009 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  3. soulstar

    lol, did you see all the congress people trying to get an autograph from obama – hilarious!

    February 25, 2009 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  4. CWD

    How rude of these people to be clacking away on their Blackberries during one of the most important speeches in the last few years. This is just illustrative of how rude people have become in this electronic age. They can't put away their toys for a couple hours during a State of the Union address. For shame. A truly disgraceful lack of manners by all involved.

    Also, the staffer who posted the snarky message about the basketball game should be fired immediately.

    February 25, 2009 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  5. Wolf-Woman Palin Charlotte, NC

    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.

    Obviously, he can't read. Perhaps, Obama's education plan can help him.

    February 25, 2009 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  6. John Sim

    Bobby Jindal just blew me away. Most inspiring words I've heard since my early days watching Mr. Rodgers.

    February 25, 2009 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  7. Kent D

    I find (regardless of party) it rude to Tweet during the President's speech. I think all of them should be attending to the message.

    February 25, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  8. ERNEST COLLATIN

    bravo beutiful speech I NOTICE REPUBLICANS SEAT VERY QUIET NONE OF THEM SMILE . REMENBER GOP U LEFT THI S COUNTRY IN A MESS AND HERE COME OUR HERO TO FIX OUR BEUTIFUL COUNTRY IM praud to be american mr president I HAVE YOUR BACK

    February 25, 2009 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  9. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*

    I know Michael C. Burgess is a doctor and was obviously looking for healthcare references in the speech, but surely he could have found something positive to say instead of his negative comment. Maybe he missed the part where Obama emphasized the need to find a cure for cancer. ?????

    I am SO tired & weary of the constant partisan politics. Why can't the Republicans and the Democrats work TOGETHER to solve the problems we're all facing? For God's sake, they all need to start thinking about which is more important– our country or your political party!!!!

    February 25, 2009 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  10. Paul M.

    Just once it would be great to see the two parties support the president and show a willingness to work with him rather than the constant bickering. At least there is an honest effort being put forth to get something done. Please don't let us forget who and how we got to where we are. The time has really come to consider breaking up the legislative family in Washington. Term limits for legislators looks better every day. Maybe the term limit concept would actually force individuals who go to Washington and really do the peoples' work.

    February 25, 2009 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  11. curtis in WI

    How disrespectful and just plain rude.

    February 25, 2009 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  12. Paul

    Attention partisans! Get off your hands and get behind our president. Let the guy do his job. If the twittering hecklers were in the private sector they would be labeled pariahs, sent to the mobility pool, and then out to the parking lot. Those of the color red know who I'm talking about. You have big trouble–we all have big trouble–work with our CEO/Commander in Chief/Cheerleader and not against him! Shame on you for not getting on board–nothing good will happen unless you all work TOGETHER. We can't wait another four years.

    February 25, 2009 12:33 am at 12:33 am |
  13. Nancy

    Well, they've been "tweetering" there way through the last twenty years.. so what's new??? Grow up!!! and realize your responsibility!!

    February 25, 2009 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  14. Indy

    Aww...look! They think they're people!

    February 25, 2009 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  15. Roland in St George, UT

    It figures...they are all a bunch of twits anyway.

    February 25, 2009 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  16. C

    YOU GUYS ARE LIKE A BUNCH OF TEXT MESSAGING TEENAGERS...HA HA HA!!! WELCOME TO AMERICA, WHERE HAVE YOU GUYS BEEN! NOW GO DO YOUR JOB OF MAKING A BETTER AMERICA!!!

    February 25, 2009 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  17. Brad, California

    "Hold onto your wallet America," Culberson quipped.

    It's a shame you didn't tell that to Americans as you were voting to dump our treasury into Iraq and Afghanistan while denying it to Americans, or while you were we were voting to expand "free" trade to further place Americans ad a disadvantage.

    Your voting record speaks for itself.

    You would never have received my vote, but then again, I have never chosen to live in "your" district. I can only hope that your constituents wake up between now and the next congressional election cycle.

    February 25, 2009 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  18. mary,florida

    He keeps giving them rope And.....

    February 25, 2009 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  19. Jim St Louis

    I think that the transparency that Obama is saying that the VP and IG will take care of by keeping track on what is spent and either wasted or used for good purposes is smoke and mirrors. There is no way to keep track of this small volume of money if they say that Banks do not have any way to keep track of people that made bad loans.

    I also remember that Obama was one of the senators that signed the bank ball out bill. The Democrats are doing the usual after elections and that is discredit in the most negative way the Republicans.

    As Fox news casters and writers have stated in the next year Obama will not have the past administration to blame he will have to stand on his own feet ready or not along with his party that have an open check book to do what they want to do without bipartinship at all. Like the Democrats did by pushing the stimulus package without any discussion according to what I saw and heard many senior Republican Reps and Senators state.

    I wish our country the best of luck because that is what it will take due to the lack of anyone with a knowledge or integrity in the Democratic House or Senate to do the right thing to help the United States and our people get out of the problems they have caused.

    February 25, 2009 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  20. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    I wonder how many watched Pelosi jumping up and clapping like a high school cheerleader every time Obama said something.

    That will probably show up on You Tube soon. She looked like a clown.

    February 25, 2009 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  21. E.J. in Tacoma

    I think this is funny everyone twittering everyone! At least some of those stuffy Republicans are showing their more humanistic side! Next time they should pick someone other than Jindal to represent opposing views he seemed quite fake and disingenuous!

    February 25, 2009 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  22. kravitz

    In case anyone missed how Obama got back at the New York Post, NewsCorp, Fox and Rupert Murdoch...did you notice American Idol was supposed to be shown tonight?

    February 25, 2009 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  23. Jason

    Joe Barton...you're pathetic.

    February 25, 2009 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  24. Leena

    Seriously? I'd rather they pay attention, listen actively and do their job vs. acting like teenagers on the internet.

    February 25, 2009 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  25. Ron , West Coast

    Then I guess the GOP is getting the message that the American public are sick and angry that they are resuming their 20th century ways of " just say no ", and obstructionism......

    February 25, 2009 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
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