Politics

Politicians In Hot Water After Questionable Interactions On Social Media

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Facebook. Twitter. Instagram.

They’re popular ways for people to communicate these days. But for politicians, there can be pitfalls.

Texas Attorney General and Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is clarifying a tweet that placed him into political hot water.

It all began Saturday when a supporter tweeted, “@GregAbott_TX would absolutely demolish idiot @WendyDavisTexas in Gov race – run Wendy run!”

That tweet went on to use another derogatory term to describe Senator Wendy Davis of Fort Worth. Abott, who tweets himself, replied by saying, “Jeff, thanks for your support.”

On Sunday, Mr. Abbott responded to the controversy by tweeting, “FYI: I thank supporters on Twitter, but I don’t endorse anyone’s offensive language. Stay positive.” He also deleted the offensive tweet.

Campaign sources told CBS 11 Monday that Abbott didn’t scroll down to see all of the tweet. Senator Davis, who’s considering a run for Governor, isn’t commenting.

Cynthia Smoot uses social media to help clients of Gangway Advertising, the advertising-public relations firm she started with her husband. “You can’t be responsible for everything your supporters say. You can only be responsible for yourself and your reaction to what’s thrown at you. I definitely think a politician can underestimate the power of social media.”

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson says timing is a big factor in assessing political damage.

Jillson says, “A good thing it happened early because it’s likely to be a blip. If it happened in the middle of a hard-fought campaign, it could be different.”)

Social media is also being used effectively to help Texas candidates.

This online ad is getting a lot of attention in the Republican primary for Lt. Governor.

It’s a website created by Senator Dan Patrick of Houston who’s challenging incumbent David Dewhurst.

It shows a variety of cats to criticize Dewhurst’s leadership during Senator Davis’ filibuster against new abortion restrictions.

Smoot says, “I think it’s a fantastic use of social media. They’re using a website, probably promoting a link through social channels so they’re combining all mediums together to get one big collective force so I think that’s very smart.”

Jillson says while cute, the website won’t win Patrick an election. “Senator Patrick is going to go from cute to cut and slash in a heartbeat when the campaign actually starts.”

Jillson says, after all, going negative is more effective.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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