August 14th, 2009
07:23 PM ET
5 years ago

Senators battle over health care on Twitter turf

 Senator Grassley goes after Senator Specter on his Twitter account.
Senator Grassley goes after Senator Specter on his Twitter account.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Political rivals are turning up the heat on Twitter - even if they've only got 140 characters to work with.

The latest Twit-fight came Friday, when Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter (D) and Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) exchanged jabs on the social networking site.

It started around 1:00 p.m. ET when @SenArlenSpecter tweeted, "Called Senator Grassley to tell him to stop speading myths about health care reform and imaginary 'death panels.'" This was followed up with "Had to leave a message - for now. I will talk to him soon."

@ChuckGrassley was quick to respond: "Specter got it all wrong that I ever used words 'death boards'. Even liberal press never accused me of that. So change ur last Tweet Arlen."

The back-and-forth was sparked by Grassley's remark at a town hall in Iowa earlier this week, when the Senator told the audience: "We should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on Grandma." Grassley did not use the term "death boards" or "death panels."

Currently, Specter has slightly over 4,000 followers on his Twitter account and Grassley has more than 15,000 followers.

In the past, politicians might have reserved their toughest blows for television sound bites or press releases. But Twitter is turning into a battlefield of its own.

On Tuesday, tempers flared in the New Jersey governor's race when Gov. John Corzine (@JonCorzine) re-tweeted a line about the economy written on @polticalcouncil, an obscure Twitter account with just 20 followers. The re-tweet in question said: "Corzine's financial experience helped PREVENT this economic downturn."

Republican Chris Christie (@christiefornj), Corzine's opponent in the race, tweeted back: "Be careful what u tweet! NJ's unemployment rate has gone from 4.8% when you started to 9.2% today." The Corzine campaign then blamed a staffer for the re-tweet without a proper fact-check.

Christie has slightly over 3,000 followers, while Corzine has slightly under 2,000 followers.


Filed under: Social Networking • Twitter
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. m smith

    So tired of the half truths and out and out lies from the far right. We need better health care .

    August 14, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  2. Sean

    Grassley may not have said the specific words "death panel", but he clearly and directly perpetuated the myth of them by saying that "we should not have a government program that determines if you're going to pull the plug on Grandma". As a U.S. Senator, he should be intelligent enough to recognize that what he said is the very definition of one of these imaginary "death panels". If he's not intelligent enough to reach this elementary conclusion, then he has no business being a part of our government. I'm sick and tired of ignorant idiots trying to shape the future of our world.

    I can't believe this kind of thing is actually what dominates debates about important issues like health care these days. How can we move forward when the morons are working so hard to hold us back?

    August 14, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  3. james

    I think limiting the number of characters that congressmen can use to communicate is a good idea. I am sure it is a challenge for them. It's certainly better than the dribble they spew on the floor of the house.

    August 14, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  4. TN for Obama

    Grassley's "Pull the plug on grandma!" sounds innocent to ME!!!!!!!!!!! Grassley's talking about the part of the legislation where it says that if "Grandma is drowning in a bathtub you can....."pull the plug on grandma!" AND The part of the legislation that says we can "Pull the plug on grandma" if a toaster explodes and the plug is embedded in grandma's stomach! AND The legislation says that we can "Pull the plug on grandma *IF* the plug was actually meant for grandpa's bald head and the evil government put it in grandma's head we can.......YES....."pull the plug on grandma!!!!"

    August 14, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  5. gtekam

    Best if the republicans accepted that they had been defeated in Nov. 2008, let the democrats what it their way this time. Republicans can then concentrate on the next election and show us what they can do which is better than what the democrats have done in 4 years.

    If this healthcare bill comes out not to be what I voted for in Nov. 2008, the first person I would blame is the obstructionist in the republican party, because they prevented change from happening the way democrats wanted it to be.

    If republicans ever want my vote, they should respect the vote I casted in Nov. Last year.

    August 14, 2009 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  6. Cynthia - Arkansas

    If I was Grassley, I would be too ashamed to even say anything. WHAT A SNAKE. Acting like he's going to help all of us who are tired of the insurance companies robbing those of us with insurance blind and to help those with no insurance.

    This man has no morals or character. Do anything for your sorry party. How sad!

    August 14, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  7. gtekam

    Republicans, get out of the way and shut up.

    August 14, 2009 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. Twits on Twitter

    Childish, silly, foolish and idiotic = twitter. I guess that's why the politicians are using it.

    August 14, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  9. alvino

    Grassley still owes Iowans an apology for lying about health care reform.

    August 14, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  10. alvino

    Grassley will never get it right. Come on Iowa, pull the plug on Grassley.

    August 14, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  11. Dyan

    Does Grassley not know about the invention called 'video'? Or does he think voters are so stupid not to know plain english when we hear it?

    August 14, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  12. Todd (not the Alaska Separtist)

    So long as Grassley and all the other Republican good little doggies who do what they are told by their masters, the insurance industry and big pharma, we are going to continue to see widespread disinformation spread by their ilk. Real Dems (not those cowardly blue dogs) need to stand up and say "quit lying to the American people".

    August 14, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. Jill-IN

    Problem is we have seen and heard on TV what Grassley told the folks in Iowa – can't take back what you say. Now what you do say to the folks in the Health Committees when you come back to D.C.? Oops!

    August 14, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. Eleanor

    "Twit-fight". Ha. Hahaha. Ha. Ha!

    August 14, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  15. ED FL

    they could spell twitter, twotter and these two old coots wouldn't know the difference

    August 14, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    I think 'Twit-fight' is the most incredibly accurate description I have read in many a moon...

    August 14, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  17. alvino

    Grassley supported end of life consultation and voted for it in 2003. If you were to look up the word 'hypocrit' in the dictionary, you would see Grassley's picture. Pull the plug on Grassley.

    August 14, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  18. Peggy

    You know it doesn't matter whether or not he used those exact words. I was watching, and his meaning was quite clear. He is EXCELLENT at speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

    August 14, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  19. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)

    Dear President Obama and Speaker Pelosi,
    It's time to stop acting like there is any possibility of a serious public debate about health care with people who are trying to kill reform by wasting time, with rabble rousers, and with propaganda pushers. Use the power we gave you in 2008 to pass good legislation that will benefit all Americans. As President Clinton suggested today, those who are easily fooled by right-wing propagnda will be reduced to silence by policies that provide good health care. So stop trying to compromise with people who will vote against you no matter what you do and get it done for the good of our country!

    August 14, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  20. Keith in Austin

    Sarah Palin'a Twitter account has done as much to mobilize America's distain for Obamacare than the DNC's defense of it! Thanks Sarah for being our 101st Senator!

    August 14, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  21. John M, NoHo

    About time Dems started some rear end bruising. Time to get all Rove-ian on their butts!

    August 14, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  22. HJA

    Tweet Tweet Tweeeeeeeet! As if we don't have enough Twits!

    August 14, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  23. Post always rejected by CNN

    What is so frustrating about this is, the republicans don't want health care in any form. They are going to lie, cause trouble, disrupt town hall meetings, anything to stop it.

    For two reasons, first political -they want to try to stop President Obama and the Democrats from getting anything done. Obstruction, their number one priority.

    Second - they are so afraid of loosing the funding from health and drug companies they are messing themselves. this only goes to show that they don't give a hoot in hades about the poor and middle class. All they want to do is get back in power so they can pillage and plunder this country again. If they practically ruined it in eight years with King bush reigning supreme and them backing him with every lousy bill what do you think they will do if they ever steal their way back. It is a shame that the majority of people in this country can't just vote them out instead of the stupid airheads that might live in their district. I know darn well they would ALL be gone if it was up to real Americans.

    August 14, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  24. Splat!~

    I am an Independant voter from Iowa. I voted for Sen. Grassley the last time he was up for re-election. I'm very disappointed in his decision to follow Palins' lead. While he may not have used the words 'death squad', his intent was the same as Palins' and just as despicable. For me his time is over and I will form my own 'death squad' and 'pull the plug' on my support for him.

    August 14, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  25. cm

    What is this? Is like we have a bunch high school kids fighting for attention. Stop the none sense and get to work in the health care reform seriously.

    August 14, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
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