February 25th, 2009
05:25 AM ET
9 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. CJ

    From the comments I have read, the Republican members of Congress appear to be nothing more than jealous irresponsible children about to be disciplined for their actions, enough lights to get a suntan, too many TV people, etc. Come on people. The American people are suffering, suffering at the hands of the past administration and yes, the Republicans in Congress. I just wonder how all of you old coots would feel if your children did not have health insurance, if your family was turned away because you had no health care, if you had a myocardial infarction and lost everything you had just to be given a chance to live. You all make me sick!!!!

    February 25, 2009 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  2. grahame

    The Republicans can tweet all they want but I'm afraid for them it's too little too late. To paraphrase an old TV ad; 'When Obama speaks people listen.' or to put this in more succinct terms. As Obama's popularity increases so do the Republicans popularity diminish. Proof of this is Bobby Jindals rebutal to the speech during which all he pointed out was the fundimental difference between the Republican and the Democrat ideoligy. That was without offering anything new by way of a different way forward. Sad really. Also to those who believe in Sarah Palin being the new face of the Republican Party. Just remember that Nancy Pelosi is an adult with a fully loaded AK7 who can take out any pit bull with or without lipstick..............

    February 25, 2009 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  3. Deb

    What else would be expected from the party of NO. After watching Bobby Jindal speak they have much to worry about. His comparison to the disaster of Katrina was awful. Katrina's aftermath was a product of what the American public endured these past eight years. George W. Bush!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 25, 2009 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  4. B.C.

    Pres. Obama's message was spectacular! Time and cooperation is what he needs to do what he has in mind. Gov. Jindal and the Republican party need to stop licking their "we lost the election wounds, so let's be like the pus in a sore that doesn't let the healing process begin". They need to get on board the economic recovery train. There's nothing like trying even if every single thing doesn't work. Doing nothing to heal a sore only makes it worse. That's why we are where we are today. Gods speed to Pres. Obama.

    February 25, 2009 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  5. donna

    Leave it to a Texas Congressman to find something to whine/complain about...geesh!!

    February 25, 2009 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  6. Floyd in New York

    Don't get caught up in the cool-aid! It took former President Bill Clinton to scould him into how to act positive and not be so negative about everything!!

    February 25, 2009 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  7. Tom Swift, Shopton

    It is rather annoyong watching Pelosi smirk for an hour. Perhaps one of the networks might consider a "blue dot" ??

    February 25, 2009 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  8. New Yorker

    "It would be impolite to livetweet" ? while Obama tells us a bunch of lies.

    "Hold onto your wallet America" ? What Socialist society was ever allowed to hold onto its wallet?

    February 25, 2009 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  9. Judy Titus

    Great speech! but the President keeps avoiding how he will pay for all these perks. I smell more money for the tax payers to dish out behind this speech. The Washington group is really trying to put blind folds on the American people. We are DOOMED !!!


    February 25, 2009 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  10. cnnnewser

    I hope they twittered about the delapited school in Dillon South Carolina and of the little girl with the courage to write to President Obama, and to appear at the speech last night, about the horrible conditions at the school. We should all be reminded that Lindsay Graham wants a new federally funded convention center in Myrtle beach and Mark Sanford (the Governor) dosen't want the stimulus money.
    So, these 2 nitwit republicans that hold the fate of South Carolina in their hands care nothing about the school or the children that go to the school, otherwise a new school would be on top of their agenda.
    Shame on them!!!

    February 25, 2009 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  11. Ricky

    Obamabots rejoice!! Your messiah explained how his government will invade our schools, healthcare and wallets. Get ready for huge government control in your life!!

    Theme of Obama's speech – Welfare makes a comeback!!

    February 25, 2009 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  12. angrysob VA

    More of the same campaign promises and "I inherited this" BS. He can say all he wants but until I see him produce anything substantial other than a bogus recovery act then it all campaign BS. I'm out of a job on Friday. Obama's plan will create 4 million jobs by 2011 – Not good enough! The $400.00 tax break per worker is a joke also. The way I see it, keep the tax break!

    February 25, 2009 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  13. Dave Shaver

    We've always suspected that elite politicians were a bunch of twits. Now, with all of this twittering, we have proof!

    February 25, 2009 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  14. Todd

    It seems CNN has some hidden marketing agreement with Twitter. They have almost single handedly put it on the popular culture map.

    February 25, 2009 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  15. Joyce in Indiana

    Okay, this is non-news, but it does raise a question.

    Why weren't the members of Congress listening instead of writing that kind of inane drivel?

    I know; it's because the Democrats knew that President Obama is doing a good job and weren't worried about it, and the Republicans had made up their minds that no matter what the President said, they would be against it.

    February 25, 2009 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  16. Jon

    I think I speak for many people when I say, "Huh"??

    February 25, 2009 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  17. rawbobb

    It's awesome that our Political leaders are distracted from listening to a very important speech, instead focusing on the mundane and unimportant... Giving us 5 second sound bites that cater to our own A.D.D. True leaders still have to emerge to fix this crisis. To paraphrase The President in the movie "Independence Day"... 'May our childern forgive us.

    February 25, 2009 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  18. Kpawlak

    I wonder if they all had "twitter tingles" going up their legs also.

    February 25, 2009 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  19. Gordon Shumway

    When one is so used to campaigning and making ridiculous statements and promises, one should try to show results and state true facts and figures once elected. The bull s_ _t was supposed to stop on Novemeber 4th and real leadership take over.

    Is Obama going to be like the Energizer rabbit and just keep on bull s_ _ting along for the next four years? We didn't need his over-reacting on the economy, I hope we don't regret his tendency to over-react in a real physical crisis. Hasn't he done enough damage already?

    February 25, 2009 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  20. Jeff from Jersey

    Congress tweeting and twittering the night away.Big deal.They've tweetered ,twittered and fritted our time away for years.I'd be nice if some of them actually paid attention but I suppose that's asking too much.They are politicians afterall and that's too challenging for them.

    February 25, 2009 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  21. Art

    Poetic Note:

    Hold your wallet
    Hide your dime
    Obama's raising taxes
    One more time.....

    February 25, 2009 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  22. lynn in NM

    Gee, even they don't pay attention to him.

    February 25, 2009 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  23. Richard Wheeler

    The Republicans seem to be very good at tweeting. Lets see them tweet America out of this economic mess.

    February 25, 2009 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  24. Ren from Baltimore

    Twittering--this let many more people inside the Chamber, around the halls, and inside the representatives' heads. Exciting times for those on Main Street, never mind the Political Science departments around our universities. Exciting for future readers of history. Wow!

    February 25, 2009 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  25. Dutch/Hampton Roads, VA

    It's a very wide agenda that the president is taking on. I'm confident that we will recover and come back a stronger nation.

    February 25, 2009 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
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