GOP Contenders Don't Hold Back in Twitter Debate

Wednesday, 20 Jul 2011 08:24 PM

By David A. Patten

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A hundred and forty characters do not give a politician much room to flesh out an answer, but Republican presidential candidates gave the Twitter format their best shot Wednesday afternoon in the first-ever presidential tweet debate.

TheTeaParty.net presented the 90-minute debate, which was accessible via the organization’s website, Twitter, and 140Townhall.com.

The online debate was moderated by conservative talk-radio host Rusty Humphries and political commentator and columnist S.E. Cupp.

From the beginning, it was clear this debate would not be like previous ones.

“I’m running 4 POTUS 2 bring the voice of the people back to DC,” Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., tweeted to kick off the candidates’ remarks. “That voice requires fundamental changes.”

In addition to Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, business executive and talk-radio host Herman Cain, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter participated.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney did not take part, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty experienced a last-minute scheduling conflict and bowed out.

Candidates were able tweet as many responses as they liked, as long as they stayed within their two-minute window for each answer.

Overall, the format constrained the candidates to answer the questions put them via Twitter, without the normal political spin.

One message they were able to get across loud and clear despite the parsimonious Twitter format, however: None of them likes Obamacare.

“Repeal & replace Obamacare and fully develop American energy,” tweeted former Speaker Gingrich. “These would all create jobs by REDUCING govt.”

“Refuse to spend the money to implement Obamacare,” chimed in Santorum.

And Cain tweeted: “A the private sector would be key in a Herman Cain healthcare plan. Governmental regulation is not the way.”

Another hot debate topic: What to do about raising the debt ceiling?

“Cut, cap & balance is the immediate solution to prevent a recurrence of the debt mess,” McCotter tweeted.

Johnson also offered a prescription for fiscal sanity inside the Beltway: “I’d submit 2 Congress a balanced budget in 2013, & veto any appropriation that exceeds that budget,” he said.

The entire thread of the Twitter debate can be viewed at TheTeaParty.net website.

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