By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
So why did Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill start Twittering so much that she's now dubbed 'Senator Tweet'? To let people know she's not the devil
Losing the 2004 Missouri governor's race was tough for Claire McCaskill, now the state's junior senator. But it's what people said about her that really rubbed the Democrat raw. Explaining the roots of her torrid Twittering, McCaskill tells Whispers of a focus group in that election: She gasped as voters called her smart but cold. "One woman called me Cruella De Vil," she says. McCaskill, a self-described "friendly person," says, "I vowed from that day forward that it was important that people know that I'm a human being." Enter Twitter.
"I realized that I was probably too focused on my technical answers to questions and showing off how much I knew," she says. "I probably needed to take a deep breath and just be more open and candid about me as a person. So Twitter's perfect for that. I get to do it all. I get to do policy—and I get to share recipes."
She was pushed to Twitter by her three kids. Now "Senator Tweet" does it about four times a day. McCaskill is very disciplined and proprietary about her Twittering. Only she tweets on her account, and nobody edits her 140 characters. She relays to her 24,000 followers policy talk on the Hill and personal info, such as how she liked Star Trek. "I'm trying to show that I'm really kind of fun to hang out and have a beer with," she says. But the politician is careful not to reveal what happens between senators or what is said behind closed doors—though she says, "Believe me, there are times I'd like to tweet."
Good thing she shows restraint, says a Senate leadership aide. He says there are no rules yet on Twittering but adds, "It is well understood to be in exceedingly bad form" to tweet off-the-record talks.
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR
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