White House senior adviser David Plouffe watches Twitter reactions to President Obama's speeches on a flat-screen TV in the White House. Plouffe monitored tweets as his boss spoke about immigration reform in El Paso last week, watching which lines were "penetrating," Time's Michael Scherer reports. (One of the most popular among tweeters was when Obama ad-libbed that Republicans were constantly upping their demands for border security, to the point that he expected them to call for a moat filled with alligators.) Plouffe, pictured above, notes that 57 million people watched Obama tell the world that Osama bin Laden was dead, and a million more livestreamed it on the White House website--and they likely tuned in because they heard the news through social networks.
Following Twitter is "kind of the next evolution," Plouffe told Scherer. "Remember back in 2008, you'd have the presidential debate, and then most of the networks would have some sort of dial going up and down. That seems very Jurassic Park--like compared to this."
The White House's embrace of Twitter should make Thursday's experiment extra interesting. NPR's Andy Carvin and Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch will be co-host a Twitter conversation as Obama gives a major address on the Middle East. After the speech, the reporters will interview deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, and tweeters can submit a question with the hashtag #MEspeech. When it was reported that Obama browses regional blogs to understand how locals are interpreting events, many Middle East bloggers wondered if Obama is reading their stuff. Even if the president misses their post, it's possible that today at least Plouffe is noticing.