August 25th, 2009
04:05 PM ET
14 years ago

Republican on new media: You can teach an old dog new tricks

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Four House Republicans have formed the Republican New Media Caucus."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Four Republicans behind the House Republican New Media Caucus (@GOPNMC on Twitter) are aiming to set a technological example for their colleagues.

"It's like that old saying 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks,'" Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Latta told CNN, "Well, yeah, you can."

Latta (@boblatta on Twitter) along with fellow Republicans Rep. John Culberson of Texas (@johnculberson), Rep. Buck McKeon (@BuckMcKeon) of California, and Rep. Rob Wittman (@RobWittman) of Virginia are the co-chairs of the House GOP New Media Caucus.

Roughly 60 House Republicans have joined the caucus, according to Latta's office. The group plans to sponsor staff briefings every four to eight weeks where Republican staffers will have the opportunity to meet with representatives of technology companies like YouTube, Apple, and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion.

The caucus, which recently launched a Web site, is scouting social media services and other new technologies that might be of use to the rest of House Republican Conference in keeping in touch with the public.

Constituents "want to be kept up to date from us right now," Latta said, "They don't want to have to wait half a day, or a day, or two days later to actually get the communication," from a congressional office. So, the group is trying to identify "best practices" on social media services like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Qik, and UStream.

The four men are also using the technologies themselves, an effort to set an example for colleagues who may be reticent to try out social media.

The caucus is also functioning as a space for its members to have discussions and share ideas about technology policy. Latta, Culberson, and Wittman met last week in Silicon Valley with reps from several large technology companies including Facebook, Apple, UStream, Google, Yahoo, and Oracle, according to Latta. The meetings involved discussions of tax law issues, patent and other intellectual property issues, and immigration policy.

And the group is also keeping an eye on possible regulation of use of social media by the Franking Commission, the House body that has traditionally regulated how members of Congress communicate with the public.

Related: A new session of Congress begins . . . on YouTube

Related: Congress wades through 'tweets'

"I think we need to go before them and say, 'Here's the technology that we're dealing with today, here's what our constituents are using, here's what the business world's using, and here we are not being able to utilize it," Latta said.

A spokesman for the Franking Commission told CNN the body had no immediate plans to consider new regulations governing members' use of social media services.

"We continue to review and encourage the use of new communications technologies that assist Members in reaching and providing important information to their constituents," Kyle Anderson, press director for the House Committee on Administration, wrote in an e-mail to CNN.

In addition to keeping tabs on any new regulations, Latta's office says the caucus is also working with the Franking Commission to obtain approval for members to place paid Web advertisements in Google search results and working with House leadership to obtain official certification for Apple's iPhone, so that Members and staffers can get their secure, official e-mail on the device.(BlackBerry, an iPhone competitor, is already certified for congressional use.)

"Technology is changing, the world's changing as to how people communicate," said Latta - people "don't want their government to be living in the Stone Age."

Filed under: GOP • House • Social Media • Social Networking
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. shucks

    You can teach an old dog new tricks, but can you make them honest in the process, or just give them another outlet for their vitriol.

    August 25, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  2. Jackie in Dallas

    I'm on the side of the people commenting about new gadgets does not mean a new message. It doesn't matter how "up to date" you look, it is the message that you put on that gadget that matters...

    I'm sure that there will be a lot of twittering about the special investigator, specifically. After all, they need to get their alibis, er, stories straight!

    I hope that they remember that Twitters are admissible evidence....

    August 25, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  3. Kevin B

    The GOP will be able to spread fear, lies and bigotry even faster than with Fox news and the AM radio talk show blowhard entertainers.

    August 25, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  4. Dave, Central Illinois

    Go on and continue your hateful little chattering, lib monkeys. 2010 is around the corner and history will repeat itself: 1994. Looking at the polls, it looks like the rabid left-wing monkeys are out of touch.

    August 25, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. Mike

    Republicans are a joke!!! Come back in 8 years WITH a plan and maybe the American People will listen.

    August 25, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Paul

    At least CNN is accurately calling Republican OLD DOGS, for they are...the white, old, wealth class that's ideas are OLD AS THE HILLS, and whose theories have gone the way Jack Kemp did...they died.

    August 25, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Greg in MO

    Yeah, the "young blood" has really brought many changes. They only use scare tactics to frighten people into supporting social health insurance and into hating rich people. That's lustre you couldn't scape off with a wire brush.

    August 25, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Proud Union Worker

    I like using twitter to stay in contact with my men.Im a miner and without a union most of us would we dead by now.

    August 25, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Eddy

    "You put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig"

    August 25, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Chipster

    The Internet is amazing but limited. People can communicate more often, more easily, and in more ways than ever before. However, they're just as intelligent or just as ignorant as ever. It's almost a shame to call it communication. Maybe regurgitation is a better word.

    August 25, 2009 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Proud Member..Party of No

    This summer brought a significant shift in voter preferences in the Generic Congressional Ballot. As Republican Congressional candidates once again lead Democrats by a 43% to 38% margin this week, this is now the ninth straight ballot the GOP has held a modest advantage.

    August 25, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. Ron Paul is still in 1812

    I thought i heard a birdie,but it was Ron Paul,twittling in the wind.

    August 25, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Babs

    Now the morons want to twitter. So our tax dollars will go to pay for that instead of a days work working for the people. We can call it "Twittering against Obama, a Republicans day at work."

    August 25, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Mississippi Mike

    When the old media fails to do its job another means of communication will pop up. That's the beauty of a capitalist democracy, and it could be a reason why liberals hate capitalism and democracy so much.

    August 25, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. Al-NY,NY

    too little, WAYYY too late old guys

    August 25, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. Erasmus

    Just remember that you will be leaving a written record. Not always a good thing for politicians, unless of course they can try to claim Executive privilege or I'm above the law.

    August 25, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  17. Rush Goebbels

    I hope Rush will be able to twitter from prison to his minions of mindless morons.

    August 25, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  18. unshrub

    Republicans forget, "it's not how they are passing their message to the people, it is their message."

    August 25, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  19. a progressive liberal and proud of it

    Maybe the GOP should stop playing with their toys and start trying to do something about health insurance reform besides blocking it. Just a thought.

    August 25, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. jfs Memhis, Tn

    It will be hard ........many GOP's are used to computers that use vacuum tubes and punch card readers. Lets hope that this will assist our Conservative Family the ability to stay apraised of the actual needs of all our citzens are...............inclusively.

    August 25, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. dr.mimi de la cruz

    1) I will not vote for president Obama again if he doesn't
    get to it. I dont care what the republicans want. They can
    all move to Alaska & declare Palin, the polle dancer, their
    2) He has my vote to pack Chaney, Bushwhack & their entire
    entourage to the Hague, Guantanamo or a Kansas jail.
    3) As for WHOLE FOODS- I have done a survey of what my
    family & friends spend in their stores per MONTH-over $12,000.
    their CEO scumbag. BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT, BOYCOTT.

    August 25, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. LacrosseMom

    Funny! The GOP is trying everything to change its image! To entice Americans back! LOL!!

    The GOP still have not learned the very painful lesson of 2008! Which is that Americans REJECTED their VILE politics of hate..... lies....... fear and division! As long as they continue with their Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, and the rest of the haters we, the People, will vote for the other team!

    August 25, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ouch! That hurt! NOT.

    August 25, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  24. Sandra


    Rush Limbaugh is and Anti-Obama and Anti-Democrats Propagandist.

    Wrong, Illogical and Imprudent Propaganda can be very harmful for the Person who spreads Propaganda, than any Advantage or Benefit.

    Whatever Rush Speaks is Absolutely Insane and Lunatic. His criticism of Obama is like “Kindergarten Name-Calling”.

    Rush Limbaugh is an Illiterate and an Uneducated person. GOP is using him as their Spokes Person.

    There is an old saying, “A Foolish and Idiot Friend is more Dangerous than an Intelligent Enemy”.

    GOP does not realize, the more Rush Limbaugh speaks, the more People Hate GOP.

    It is like, Rush is Digging the GOP grave even Deeper. Good Luck Rush and Good Luck GOP.

    August 25, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  25. Zaley

    Republicans are packs of "old dogs".

    August 25, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
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