The Republican nomination
The dance of the seven tweets
The former speaker starts a presidential campaign
May 12th 2011 | WASHINGTON, DC | from the print edition
NEWT GINGRICH entered the race for president much as he has conducted himself throughout his political career: chaotically. In March his aides let slip that he would make a big announcement during a stop at the state capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, only to retract the whole plan for reasons that still remain opaque. Then on May 9th his staff used Twitter to declare that two days later he would issue a tweet, along with an update to his Facebook page, that would mark his entry into the race. All this tweeting about possible future tweets kept commentators puzzling (which may have been part of the point) but finally, on May 11th, the immortal words “Today I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States” appeared on Mr Gingrich’s feed, in between a plug for an upcoming television appearance and an enthusiastic mention of a book about the Berlin wall.
Mr Gingrich’s affinity for social media notwithstanding, most Americans think of him as a figure from the past. He was first elected to Congress in 1978. In 1994 he was the inspiration behind the Contract with America, a manifesto that helped the Republicans to win a majority in the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. As a result, he became speaker, and proceeded to duel with Bill Clinton, the president of the day, over both budgets and Mr Clinton’s personal life.