updated 5/1/2009 5:28:10 PM ET 2009-05-01T21:28:10

Waiting for the Legislature's budget committee to start its work, state Rep. Robin Vos lacked the power of the majority party, but he did have the power of the tweet.

"What are the Democrats doing behind closed doors?" the Republican from Racine wrote Thursday, posting to Twitter from his cell phone. "My guess is figuring out a way to pass another tax increase hoping no one will notice."

Politicians across the country are turning to the popular social networking and micro-blogging site. Its 140-character limit on messages is a little tight for some in the often long-winded profession, but they see Twitter's immediacy as a great benefit for making announcements or quick digs at the opposition.

"It's a great way to get the message out," said Scott Walker, a Republican candidate for Wisconsin governor who scooped himself with a tweet announcing he had filed campaign paperwork, four days before his campaign's carefully orchestrated kickoff.

"I can do it from my BlackBerry. I don't have to write a lengthy blog. ... You're not putting white papers up there."

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's Twitter feed was launched Wednesday, and by Friday more than 13,000 people had signed up to her Palin's messages. The Republican has sent tweets about the swine flu, noting that no cases had been reported in Alaska and urging people to take precautions against the disease.

Popular tweeting politicians include Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, who has more than 65,000 followers.

Vos' tweets have not quite caught fire in the same way. His Thursday night tweet went out to only 40 people, but by Friday morning he had 57 followers.

President Barack Obama used Twitter throughout his campaign, which tapped into all sorts of new media including Facebook and YouTube. In March, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, used it to announce he was running for governor.

"Aloha everybody! I want you to know I'm running for governor of Hawaii in 2010. Let's bring change to Washington Place!" Abercrombie wrote.

"Politicians like a new thing and we're in the peak in the moment of the Twitter fad," said University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Charles Franklin, who also tweets. "In that sense, it's not surprising to see them get on it."

Politician aren't immune to a problem some celebrities have had with Twitter: Impostors sending tweets in their name.

A page purporting to be that of U.S. Rep. Don Young was removed Thursday. Spokeswoman Meredith Kenny said the long-serving Alaska Republican was frustrated and upset when he learned that someone was posing as him and sending tweets that ranged from silly to preposterous.

"Just received a memo from the White House: either I sign a loyalty oath to Obama, or 'my life will be difficult.' Insane. (I won't!)" the impostor said in one of the messages. Another fake tweet asked, "Can anything top a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich?"

Associated Press Writer Rachel D'Oro in Anchorage, Alaska, contributed to this report.

More on Twitter

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments