Pols Tweeting For Votes

Gone are the days when politicians had to visit umpteen restaurants, factories and malls to press the flesh with ordinary folks in the hopes of expanding their constituency.

These days, if you're going to get out the vote, you're going to have to get out on Twitter, Facebook, and any number of other social networking sites.

Sen. Mel Martinez is one of many lawmakers who are moving away from the snail-mail method and trying to use these sites to his advantage.

"My children would rather text me than talk to me. This is a way of communicating and reaching an audience that otherwise wouldn't be reached," Sen. Martinez told the Miami Herald.

Martinez recently joined Twitter and already has more than 1,000 followers.

"I could see how it would be interesting to some people," Martinez said. "It's an audience that's never going to see you on 'Meet The Press' but is hopefully interested in what government does."

Martinez tweeted during President Barack Obama's recent address to Congress. "Ambitious speech. Missed on nuclear as 'green' energy. He's had a strong start. Well received speech in chamber. Has to reject earmarks," he wrote.

Martinez's fellow Florida senator is also getting into the act: "Renewing the push to upgrade benefits for widows and widowers of service members," Sen. Bill Nelson recently tweeted. "I'll be filing legislation soon."

Political observers suggest it was Obama's success at harnessing social networking in last fall's election that has members of Congress tapping their inner geeks.

So far, most tweeting pols are keeping it pretty conservative.

"I keep it pretty straight. Look at me, red tie, dark suit. I'm pretty much a straight-up guy," Martinez said.

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