News Column

GOP Tweets Up Rebuttal of Address

Feb 13, 2013

Jessica Van Sack

The State of the Union rebuttal last night ceased to be the task of one poor sap who drew the short straw.

Though it was officially delivered as planned by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the GOP's social media campaign offered the more salient response.

Republicans were out in full force last night on the Web, launching a real-time rebuttal of President Obama's speech. A new website unveiled by House Republicans offered a feed of GOP tweets responding to the speech beside a live video feed of the address.

"Long on rhetoric & short on constructive ideas," tweeted U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas).

Indeed, the reception to Obama's speech was charted by Microsoft's search engine Bing in a first-ever virtual watch party. On that site, a line graph showing the real-time response to the speech remained in a negative trend during the entire speech.

The White House urged people to submit questions about the speech using the hashtag #WHChat, but only about 500 tweets used the tag and among them, most were encouraging people to submit questions.

Yet just because people didn't want to engage with the White House didn't mean they weren't talking about the speech, with the hashtag #SOTU having generated 92,000 tweets that reached 300 million people yesterday.

After the speech, top White House officials -- senior advisers on the economy, immigration, education and energy and climate policy -- answered questions from citizens in a live online forum, part of a weeklong series of online events organized by the Obama administration around the annual address. As part of the effort, the Obama administration also invited a select group of social media enthusiasts, including 2006 Boston College grad and political junkie Ryan Brown, to live-tweet the speech from the White House.

Also on hand was Kenzi Green of Northampton, national communications director for the College Democrats of America, who asked how she could help further Obama's agenda.

"Hearing a speech like this is such validation we elected the right man for the job," she said in the live webcast.

Source: (c)2013 the Boston Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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