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McCaskill stimulates Twitter with Tweet against second stimulus

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 13, 2009 - U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., sent shockwaves through Twitter world this weekend with one stunning Tweet:

"I do not support a second stimulus," she typed at 9:52 a.m. Saturday.

And 28,630 "followers'' took notice.

For months now, McCaskill has been dubbed Washington's Twitter Queen because of her embrace of the new technology. She's written 821 "updates'' -- the site's lingo for posts -- that immediately show up on the Twitter sites of 28,630 people who have signed up to "follow'' every McCaskill Tweet.

Those followers include a decent number of journalists, including yours truly.

Her Tweet on the proposed second stimulus -- believed to be her first on-the-record opposition -- came amid several others in which McCaskill underscored her defense for the initial stimulus package, which has taken on political fire from those who say it:

A) hasn't worked and was a waste of money, or

B) wasn't big enough to kick-start the nation's economy.

Said the senator in a Tweet at noon Saturday: "I believe the first stimulus has helped. No one said it would work magic in 3 mos.Said at the time most of the jobs will be created in 2010."

McCaskill took Sunday off, with no Tweets posted.

McCaskill's Tweets mix policy with pleasure. Her last Tweet over weekend (7:22 p.m. Saturday) emphasized her Armed Services Committee vote against Lockheed's F-22 "Raptor'' fighter plane -- a rival to Boeing's F-18.

(Since Twitter limits each Tweet to 140 characters, that took some doing: "yes I opposed F22 in the Armed Services Comm..voted no").

But seven Tweets earlier (right before that stimulus post), McCaskll wrote: "Why is it so much fun to beat the Cubbies? So far great road trip Cards!"

Many of McCaskill's Tweets are in response to replies posted by followers, some of whom post critical comments in response to hers.

And one follower made note of a debate last weekend over whether the senator was truly the author of all those 821 updates on her Twitter site.

Replied McCaskill at 12:13 p.m. Saturday: "Tell them it's really me. I've got no one to blame if I tweet something dumb.I think it's healthy for me to communicate directly."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.