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Potent tool for 'tea party' political campaigns: the 'attack tweet'

Political dispatches via Twitter emerged in 2008, but it's a whole different animal today. Campaigns of tea party candidates, especially, have made effective use of the 'attack tweet' to rouse followers.

By Staff writer / September 15, 2010

Forget foreign wars. Today it’s political insurgents who are making news across the US, as upstart "tea party" candidates roll past GOP regulars from New York to Colorado. How are these political newbies, many penny-poor with barely a campaign headquarters to speak of, doing it?

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One handy tool is the “attack tweet,” say social media experts.

One of the fave weapons of these warriors is that 140-character zinger sent out via Twitter. Everyone knows that social media – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. – lent a big helping hand to the long-shot candidacy of Barack Obama back in '08, but the 2010 tweet is a far cry from the polite Twitter dispatches of 2008.

Sarah Palin set the tone with her tweets, from name calling progressive opponents "a cackle of rads" to calling the president's agenda "backasswards."

In the Delaware Senate race between GOP Rep. Mike Castle and tea partyer Christine O’Donnell. Ms. O'Donnell's campaign tweets to followers were laced with personal comments, including complaints that she was being picked on because she's a conservative woman, says Republican strategist David Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision.

“These are very dire appeals that serve to energize a loyal base and help get the word out,” says Mr. Johnson.


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