Wednesday's Twitter debate among six GOP presidential candidates is a first. Will the 140-character format produce a series of sound bites? Or will interactivity make it more meaningful for voters?
Tweeting – posting messages within Twitter’s 140-character limit – may seem like the ultimate form of sound-bite politics. But the popular social-media site has the potential to deliver more depth than a typical television debate, organizers and political science experts say. That’s largely because of Twitter's interactive nature and the ability to include Internet links within tweets.
“It could be very substantive because [a candidate] could say, ‘I have a 10-point plan to revive manufacturing.... Click on this site and read a 25-page paper,’ ” says Darrell West, vice president of governance studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “In a TV debate you might have a minute to summarize your answer, but you don’t have the Web link that enables [you to convey] other types of information.”
IN PICTURES: Republicans in the 2012 presidential race
The debate, scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday, is sponsored by TheTeaParty.net, a national organization that supports tea party events and groups across the United States.