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White House / WHITE HOUSE

Obama Takes to the Cyber-Bully Pulpit

President Obama posts a tweet during an online Twitter town hall at the White House on July 6.(Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

photo of Ethan Klapper
July 29, 2011

When President Obama said to tweet your lawmakers and ask them to compromise on raising the debt ceiling earlier on Friday, he really meant it.

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Obama's campaign Twitter account, @BarackObama, has set out to spread the word of congressional Republicans who are on Twitter. "You heard the President. So here's what we're doing: throughout the day we'll post the Twitter handles of GOP lawmakers in each state," the account tweeted.

 

Going state by state, in alphabetical order, the account is tweeting out their handles.

For instance, after freshman Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., was mentioned, that particular tweet was retweeted more than 100 times, according to Twitter.

Tweets directed toward Boozman were mostly civil, and many contained the word "compromise."

"Dude compromise man!!!" one person wrote.

Earlier on Friday, Macon Phillips, the White House director of digital strategy, tweeted that "#compromise" was the hashtag of the day for tweets of this nature.

The campaign is also crowdsourcing, asking followers to tweet them additional handles of GOP lawmakers.

But could this strategy have an unintended consequence for the president? With 9.4 million followers, Obama's campaign account is one of the most followed. Mentioning GOP foes to Obama's followers could help boost their followings on Twitter.

By midafternoon on Friday, that seemed to be the case.

A Senate Republican staffer told National Journal that Republican Senators, in total, added about 6,500 new followers throughout the afternoon. Between Thursday evening and Saturday morning, that number was 10,968.

"Thanks for pushing over 11,000 followers today!" tweeted Amber Marchand, communications director for Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.

"Looking forward to all the new followers sends my way today in his Twitter spam campaign," tweeted Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C.

But the Republicans' gains was apparently Obama's loss. The president's account has lost at least 36,000 followers throughout the afternoon, the blog Mashable reported. Frequent tweeting—which is what @BarackObama has been doing—is annoying to some and can lead people to unfollow.

Katie Hogan, a spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, declined to comment, but a House Republican staffer thought Obama was making a mistake.

"He’s going to be jumping into a dogfight, given that 80 percent of our conference, and 90 percent of the freshmen are on Twitter," said the staffer, who is not authorized to talk to the media. "Does he really want to go there?"

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