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Ron Paul Shows the Other Candidates How to Use Twitter, Links to OC

September 13, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

Several of the campaigns involved in last night’s Republican debate used Twitter as a back channel to supplement their candidates’ appearances. The Bachmann and Gingrich campaigns used it to retweet people praising their performances and declaring them the debate winners. The Santorum and Cain campaigns used it to distill key quotes and sum up their answers. But The Ron Paul campaign did it best. They used the real-time nature of Twitter to back up several of his answers with supplementary links to primary source materials around the web. For example, asked about preserving Social Security, Paul said this:

One bill that I had in congress never got passed was to prevent the congress from spending any of that money on the wars and all the nonsense that we do around the world.

…and simultaneously tweeted this to their 60,395 followers:

The tweet links to the text of Paul’s “Social Security Preservation Act of 2007” on OpenCongress. He also tweeted versions of the bill that he introduced in other sessions of Congress with links to Govtrack.

Debates have to be the second worst way to learn about candidates (the worst, of course, being political ads). Every politician who participates in them can’t seem to resist using the rushed, live format to sneak in misleading contortions of facts or outright lies about other candidates’ and their own records. The debates, like just about everything else on network news channels, are basically designed to entertain for passive consumers of one-liners and identity politics. The Paul campaign’s use of Twitter here is a small but important push in the other direction — it actually assumes that the public is savvy, engaged, and caring enough to want to see things like legislative text for themselves. More like this please.


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