EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire Elections

December 24, 2011

Social media plays big role in campaigns

Refused a place in 16 Republican presidential debates, former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer didn't scream or holler. Instead, Roemer turned to Twitter.

"We respond to questions of every debate," Roemer said. "We set up a TV and we answer them before the candidates do. We do this on Twitter."

Social media has given Roemer a voice in the 2012 New Hampshire primary.

"My campaigning is done with the Internet, intertwined with the whole notion of social media," Roemer said. "We use social media to substitute as best we can for not being included."

Roemer sees social media as a benefit for his campaign, something sustaining it. His number of Twitter followers is up 500 percent in the past five weeks, he said.

"This has been a real interesting development," Roemer said. "It kept me alive."

Every 2012 candidate appears to have a Twitter presence. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.'s daughters, tweeting as the Huntsman girls, have a large following.

But Twitter is especially important to Roemer and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who also was blocked from most debates.

Johnson last week was promoting another Internet attention grabber, a national online Town Hall forum via Yowie.com and GaryJohnson2012.com.

"We've probably done eight or 10 of them," Johnson campaign spokesman Joe Hunter said. "We find they work really well. We've had as many as 10,000 viewers, Yowie.com told me."

The Johnson campaign makes exhaustive use of Twitter and Facebook, Hunter said.

"The Internet and online are self selecting in a good way," he said. "People are communicating with you for a reason. People are interested in taking the time. Plus, it's just more personal."

Cutting out the middleman

Candidates get the message out without the filter of media.

"You cut out the middle man," Hunter said. "You can get out there."

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