Christine Roberts reports: Republicans have caught the 140-character fever. Several candidates will participate in the first-ever GOP presidential debate on Twitter this Wednesday (July 20th, 2011) afternoon. The announcement comes just two weeks after President Obama held his first Twitter townhall, when he directly addressed users’ questions about the economy and jobs.
Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Gary Johnson will participate in the 90-minute discussion, sponsored by TheTeaParty.net and moderated by conservative radio host Rusty Humphries and conservative commentator S.E. Cupp. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman will skip the debate.
Users can submit questions by including @140townhall in their tweets. Candidates will have the opportunity to respond in two to three 140-character messages. It is unclear whether the actual candidates or their campaign staffs will be writing the messages. One participating presidential hopeful is no stranger to the Twittersphere, however. Newt Gingrich is the most-followed Republican candidate.
The debate is not officially affiliated with Twitter, but GOP activist Andrew Hemingway, who came up with the idea, says the social media site is “very positive” and “very excited,” according to Politico. The discussion will be one of many social media events in the 2012 race.
Facebook announced this week that it will partner with NBC News for a presidential debate before the New Hampshire primaries next year.