Is President Obama checking his twitter feed ahead of the first-ever White House Tweetup? (Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
President Obama is no stranger to the power of social media, which helped him gain a significant edge during his 2008 White House bid. Wednesday afternoon, his Twitter skills will be put to the test when he holds what will be the first of a series of Twitter town hall meetings.
The focus of the White House’s first-ever “Tweetup” will be the economy and jobs but, according to communications director Dan Pffeifer, other topics will be addressed. And administration officials say the response has been extremely enthusiastic. Macon Phillips, director of digital strategy, told reporters during a Tuesday afternoon conference call that “thousands and thousands” of queries have been submitted. But Twitter will control what questions are actually asked and answered so there will be a “national conversation” that will enable regular citizens to have a voice.
So, what are they asking? The questions submitted so far cover a broad range of topics, from the aforementioned economy and jobs to the event itself, student loans and the country’s military engagement in Afghanistan.
“If your [sic] pulling troops from Afghanistan why are you sending more? My unit deploys in September. The afghan dont want us there,” asks @CountryRidah.
@baratunde asks, “You campaigned on ‘bottom-up change’ & civic participation. Where has this succeeded most in your admin? Where has it failed?”
There are the skeptical, like @dreamweavr72, who asks Obama “Why he still insists on negotiating in good faith with those who have no intention of compromise, the GOP.” And the ridiculous, who, like @BKneon ask, "Are there any aliens in area 51? Do they look like Bachmann?”
Approximately 30 people who follow the @whitehouse account—and who paid their way to Washington—will be in the live audience at the White House tweeting about the experience. Later, they’ll have an opportunity to meet with senior administration officials to discuss the event and White House policies in general.
“The purpose of doing this event is to try to find new opportunities to connect with Americans around the country. And so whether we're inviting them here to the White House through this tweetup, or whether we're using a social media platform like Twitter to get out of D.C., we're really excited to bring in new voices to the conversation with the president, and are particularly excited about the format of tomorrow's event, which I think will take advantage of the real-time nature of Twitter to actually have a conversation and a set of questions that evolves as the president's speaking and as people are watching live,” Phillips said.
The Tweetup begins at 2 p.m., EDT. Hit us up with your reactions. BET.com wants to know, what did you #AskObama?