February 25th, 2009
05:25 AM ET
5 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. JOE

    All REPUBLICANS are scum....The GOP SUCKS...

    February 25, 2009 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  2. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    Good God!

    America is falling into an economic abyss and members of Congress are tweeting!

    Apparently mostly ObstructiPubs.

    February 25, 2009 02:38 am at 2:38 am |
  3. wal

    When Bush arrived in power, he found a surplus that the tax increase from Bill Clinton years created instead of using the surplus to invest in our future he said it was time to "give refund" to the rich and the surplus was evaporated . Today we have over a trillion dollars of deficit.
    Louisiana Gov. Today said that the government is the problem and the tax cut is the solution. What was hypocritical was the use of Katrina to explain what the govern shouldn’t exist but fail to disclose that since Katrina he have been taking hundred of billion dollars from the government to rebuild his state that is without taking in consideration the donations and charity from citizen all over the country. The same state running a deficit of over a billion dollars this year.

    February 25, 2009 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  4. Gayle Vogt

    The election of Barack Obama and the approval of his spending package is the best evidence ever of the validity of the Bell Curve.

    February 25, 2009 03:25 am at 3:25 am |
  5. victor palacios

    bobby may have been "set up" to fail if those who selected him to respond had any inkling of how awsome a presence Obama was tonight – I don't impress easily – and frankly thought Jindal impressive before tonight but he paled by comparisons – they would have done better to sacrifice an old party hack for the GOP – there are many available – but Jindal at least sounded like one of them – he has to get some new material – would Steel have done better?? hhe too has been impressive to date but tonight Obama seemed invincible – this guy never fails to exceed by expectations and is increasingly gaining my respect and admiration -maybe he is indeed what our nation needs – I hope it turns out well for all our sakes...bye

    February 25, 2009 03:35 am at 3:35 am |
  6. Mike H.

    Twitter twatter. Just because something it technologically possible doesn't mean it's something that should be done. I would have thought that members of Congress would have a little more restraint than that and Twitter when there was something to Twitter about.

    February 25, 2009 03:39 am at 3:39 am |
  7. deborah

    How rude! If this twitter was done while these bozos were giving a speech, I bet the would not like it. It's too bad some of these people still haven't gotten the message to stop the partisonship and get down to business. Well there is always the next electionl. Keep it up guys and see if you're re-elected.

    February 25, 2009 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  8. A tired American

    It would serve them better if they had paid more attention to what the president was saying and less attention to what they were thinking.

    February 25, 2009 04:08 am at 4:08 am |
  9. mohammad ali

    A GREAT SPEECH FROM A GREAT PRESIDENT AS EXPECTED. THOSE REPULICANS NEEDS TO SHOW THEY ARE REALLY PATRIOTIC AND QUIT PLAYING GAME .

    February 25, 2009 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  10. Inspired

    This President has a way of...well, making a way for us all. The UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS BACK.

    February 25, 2009 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  11. db

    I am SO glad to be a Democrat- and a Obama supporter tonight....

    February 25, 2009 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  12. AJ

    I thought the entire thing was a bit nauseating. Once again Obama proved he loves to make speeches but is a bit short on action.

    February 25, 2009 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  13. Steve in CT

    Did this article just say the Republicans are more tech savy than the Democrates? And I thought they were all just a bunch of stodgy old men. perhaps there's hope for them yet if they're more tech savy. Who'd have guessed THEY were the ones on the leading edge.

    February 25, 2009 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  14. Elaine

    I thought the President's speech was great! He laid out the groundwork and was very upbeat without being too overly optimistic. I like the fact that he is continually cautioning that this is far from over & we have many tough days ahead. Sure there were alot of small details missing,but it's great to know that he does have a plan. We've been left in the dark for soooo many years because NO ONE had a plan. I am with this president and if we can get the Republicans to quit whining they might get with the program too!!

    February 25, 2009 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  15. Larz

    Awesome speech!I wanna go out and work,study....

    February 25, 2009 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  16. yen

    Jindal, nothing he said was convincing. What was he trying to say? Not a good pick to inspire and lead. Young star? Please send me McCain.

    February 25, 2009 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  17. c housewright

    Obama's speech was inspiring and gave me hope that someone in Washington really does have a clue.
    LA's governor gave a speech that was strange, at best. He spoke like a second grade teacher reading a book to pre-schoolers. Don't understand this fool and two other Republican governors who are refusing to take stimulus funds when their states are so poor and could seriously use the help. I feel incredibly sorry for those states and the residents of those states.
    Time to re-elect serious minded governors who can put party lines aside and think of the people who put them in office. These three GOP governors are as bad as the wall street crooks and high spending bankers.

    February 25, 2009 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  18. Pel

    THANK YOU MISTER PRESIDENT. YOU TOOK THE BULL BY THE HORN IN YOUR SPEECH. Keep on pushing. and do not allow anything or anyone get you off track concerning your intended mission.

    The NAY SAYERS will always be and sometime they may have a point or two you may need to consider provided it is constructive criticism and it is something other than just cutting taxes. Cutting taxes and lack of enforcement by our regulating agencies is a major cause of the problems you are now trying to and will resolve.

    GOD be with you, congress and the GOOD OLD USA..

    February 25, 2009 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  19. Tom in Delaware

    Is it any wonder this is the worst Congress in history?

    February 25, 2009 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  20. R in Maine

    These people really do not have opinions, just opportunities for clever one-lines.

    February 25, 2009 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  21. Willy Brown

    When is #44 going to quit campaigning, stop blaming and saying “it's not my fault”? It is your fault because you were in Congress for a few short days while you weren’t campaigning for another job.

    February 25, 2009 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  22. Michael R. Doughty

    It is so refresing to have a president that has a brain and one that cares for our country, Bobby Jindal just bit his own foot off, with his comments.

    February 25, 2009 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
  23. alvino

    Impressive speech by Obama. While the right wingnuts call him an 'empty suit,' Jindahl, in his response, was an empty jock strap.

    February 25, 2009 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  24. america first

    Our President has RESTORED HOPE to AMERICA.

    February 25, 2009 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  25. alvino

    At least the republicans are no longer using smoke signals.

    February 25, 2009 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
1 2 3 4 5