The Washington Times - July 20, 2009, 09:18AM

Even though Barack Obama used it successfully during the campaign, it took the White House awhile to get up to speed on Twitter.

I wrote earlier this year the Republicans were using the medium largely unchallenged by the Obama administration, but it’s now clear the new media staffers tasked with the White House account know just how to use it.

In a first that should be noted in the presidential archives, the White House on Friday used the Twitter feed to announce to more than 726,000 followers that Obama is holding a press conference Wednesday night:

You heard it here first: Primetime presidential news conference at the White House, Wed. 7/22 @ 9PM EDT

The blast — which went to the journalists subscribing to the feed as well — circumvented the past practice of leaking the news about the press conference to a particular news outlet (as the White House did this winter). It also happened nearly two hours before the press shop informed the non-tweeting correspondents who cover the administration. 

Rather than wait until the news networks disseminated the information, Obama went right to the source.

More remarkable was a tweet the White House had issued earlier in the day.

Vivek Kundra & IT Dashboard, FTW:

FTW stands for “For the win” and is language many Tweeps appreciated.

“The White House just used FTW. I love my geeky president,” wrote imjustabrian.

User champura agreed: ”Yes it’s a new era. The White House just used FTW in a tweet.” 

User jayzombie called it the “coolest government ever” and cosetthetable said “Oh dear. @whitehouse just used the expression “FTW”. The future has happened.”

User seanhackbarth found it mockworthy: “FTW @whitehouse tweeted FTW. Seriously. What’s next, FAIL? How about this: “Stimulus: FAIL!””

Obama’s rivals are all aTwitter too.

Sen. Chuck Grassley is perhaps the most frequent (and critical) poltwit, offering up political jabs via Twitter regularly. His most famous tweet had been complaining he felt like a nail under the Obama hammer and blasting the president for sightseeing in Paris.

But Friday he went after Obama again, tweeting:

Obama speech on healthCareReform Absolutely nothing new Waste of time saying we are going to get that done Baucus and I know that But doRITE

Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee and soon-to-be former governor of Alaska, has been using Twitter more frequently lately.

She made headlines Thursday for promising less “politically correct” tweets when she formally resigns later this month.

elected is replaceable;Ak WILL progress! + side benefit=10 dys til less politically correct twitters fly frm my fingertps outside State site

Sen. John McCain last week sent out a press release boasting he’d hit 1 million Twitter followers (Tweeps, to some). He uses the feed to talk policy, promote his own television and radio appearances and on Thursday, to congratulate The Office’s Rainn Wilson for an Emmy nomination.

Also worth noting, the four candidates running for governor in Virginia and New Jersey in November all are on Twitter. (See Sarah Abruzzese’s story about the Virginia candidates’ tweets here.)


— Christina Bellantoni, White House correspondent, The Washington Times

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