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Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is a grandfather, and he tweets like one.
The 83-year-old’s Twitter feed is peppered with candid missives, often creatively crafted using what Grassley conceded in an interview is “unrecognizable shorthand.”
“I think I’ve been a senator that on various things, I’ve been ahead of a lot of other people communicating with their constituents,” Grassley, an early adopter of Twitter, explained. “So, in the spirit of representative government, I probably had one of the first fax machines in the United States Senate to communicate with my constituents. I’m probably one of the first ones to use satellite to have news conferences back to Iowa, or to, I used to do a half-hour program once a month on Iowa public television that way.”
So, while a separate account run by his staff blasts out press releases and media appearances, Grassley is free to, for example, taunt the History Channel:
Or make nonsensical insinuations about what goes on at Dairy Queen:
Or relay harrowing farm mishaps:
Or report on various deer, either assumed or known to be dead:
While it has not deterred his usage, Grassley said he avoids reading the “demoralizing” responses to his tweets. “Ninety percent of the people hate me,” he said.
One frequent criticism is the clarity of his tweeting style.
“What really irritates me about people that have negative comments about mine, they say something like, ‘Why don’t you go to college and learn how to spell?’ or, “Why don’t you use punctuation?’” an impassioned Grassley said. “Well, I can’t believe that anybody who’s on Twitter isn’t smart enough to know that you got to use shorthand, or you can’t get it in 140 characters and I just think that those people are ignorant tweet users — Twitter users.”
Few would suspect a communications professional is responsible for Grassley’s tweets; nonetheless, he offered up his frequent dispatches from various University of Northern Iowa athletic events as proof.
Though Grassley, who every year holds constituent meetings in all 99 counties in Iowa, said social media is not a substitute for face-to-face contact, he opens meetings by plugging his digital outreach efforts, such as his Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and his “internet website,” (He “experimented” with Snapchat during his last campaign, but has since largely abandoned it.)
“I admit sometimes I have fun on Twitter,” Grassley summarized. “So, let’s say it’s part of my enjoyment, ‘cause I don’t go to movies.”
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