Twitter was a punkish upstart back in 2008, when Sarah Palin and Joe Biden were chosen to run on their national tickets for vice president. On Saturday, it was the vehicle of choice for lawmakers and their operatives on Capitol Hill who quickly conveyed satisfaction -- one way or the other -- with Mitt Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.
Republicans and Democrats alike hailed the choice as one that could give them the “affirming election” that Ryan has yearned for -- with discernable instructions from the electorate as Congress tackles the issues of taxes and the size of government in the coming months.
(RELATED: Team Obama Salivates Over Ryan Pick)
“I couldn’t be more excited,” wrote Ryan’s fellow Young Gun, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. in his early-morning tweet.
Brian Walsh, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, announced: “This is now a race between a ticket ready to go big and bold versus a ticket that spent four years just talking big and bold while things got worse.”
But Democrats were happy to have Ryan, too -- as a target.
“This is how we’ll win,” said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, offering a link in their tweet to an evocative ad about the threat to Medicare posed by the Ryan budget, which helped the Democrats win a special election for the Arizona 8th District seat vacated by the wounded Gabrielle Giffords.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee agreed. Guy Cecil, the executive director, wrote: “Paul Ryan’s plan is so bad for Medicare and the economy that @NRSC paid for an ad attacking it in MT.”
And indeed, GOP Senate candidate Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont., has touted his opposition to the Ryan budget in his campaign advertising, which says it “could harm the Medicare program that so many of Montana’s seniors rely on.”
The unique characteristics of Twitter, and the fact that some lawmakers do the tweeting themselves (though, granted, it is hard to figure out just who) made the tweets sound more authentic and spontaneous than the usual staff-written statements.
“@Mitt Romney has made a great choice,” tweeted a gracious Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., an also-ran in the vice presidential sweepstakes, early this morning, long before Romney threw his arm around Ryan on the dock in Virginia.
Out in Iowa, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley was on his way to a town meeting, but took time out for a hurried commentary: “I’m very happy w Ryan as VP nominee he is an intellectual heavyweight most important he advocates well fiscal conservativism.”
“Ryan a bold VP pick for Romney,” tweeted Sen. John Cornyn, the Republican from Texas, sounding like a CNN analyst.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee that Ryan chairs, mixed analysis in his critique as well. “@MittRomney sent a clear msg to independent voters this a.m.: Take a hike.”
Links were popular. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. urged her 85,000 Twitter followers to re-tweet the Obama campaign’s broadside against Ryan. “Read and RT: what you (and your friends) need to know about Paul Ryan,” she tapped.
And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s spokesman, Adam Jentleson, slyly tweeted a link to the conservative Red State blog, where Erick Erickson was struggling to contain his enthusiasm about Romney-Ryan. Not.
The pick was “bold,” said Erickson. “But I am less and less confident that Team Romney, as presently constituted, can win that fight.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. squeezed the Democratic mantra into her 140 characters: “Paul Ryan’s budget ends the Medicare guarantee and shifts costs to seniors simply to give tax treats to the wealthiest Americans.”
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was just as succinct, and deployed a hashtag. “Paul Ryan is a friend & principled conservative. He’ll be a great partner to @MittRomney in the fight #4jobs.”
And Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, chose the best of both worlds, using Twitter to circulate his boss’s press release: “Sen. McConnell: Where the current President has simply refused to act, Gov. Romney has now pledged to lead. Paul Ryan is an excellent choice.”