Arkansas congressmen cool on Trump's tweets

Posted: January 12, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- Several members of the all-Republican Arkansas congressional delegation would like to see President Donald Trump tone down or scale back his Twitter pronouncements.

The New York Republican is moving the nation in the right direction, they say, but his social media posts are sometimes counterproductive.

"I think one of the great strengths of the president is he says what's on his mind. People like that. [But] it's also one of his greatest weaknesses," U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers said Thursday. "And, I think, many people throughout America would not mind if the tweeting was less."

One tweet can instantly shake up a news cycle.

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A presidential tweet attacking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Thursday morning spawned headlines and raised questions about the White House's stand on legislation reauthorizing the program.

Trump's tweets were posted shortly before the House voted, 256-164, to extend the program.

In a 7:33 a.m. EST post, Trump said the no-warrant surveillance law may have been used to "badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign."

But in a follow-up tweet at 9:14 a.m. EST, the president said the problem had been fixed since he took office "and today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. We need it! Get smart!"

Shortly thereafter, the House of Representatives approved the measure. All four congressmen from Arkansas voted for reauthorization. The bill now heads to the Senate.

Not all of Trump's tweets are policy related.

On Saturday, he described himself on Twitter as a "very stable genius."

On Thursday, he touched on immigration, the economy, drugs, Russia, Wal-Mart pay raises and the woman he calls "Crooked Hillary" -- former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump "loves to express himself on Twitter on all topics," U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock said Tuesday. "I don't share his affinity for the use of Twitter from a volume point of view."

When done properly, tweets can help to advance a political agenda, the lawmaker said.

"I think it's important when you use any form of communication, TV, print or social media, that you stay on message and that you enhance the policies that you're pushing," Hill said. "I would urge him to work to stay on message when he uses Twitter."

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford of Jonesboro called Trump's tweets "a double-edged sword."

"In some cases he's saying things that need to be said, trying to bust through a media establishment that is absolutely 100 percent against him," he said Wednesday.

But the messages also can backfire, Crawford said.

If Trump alters his style a bit, it might "be more productive for those of us here in the trenches who are trying to do the heavy lifting," he added.

When it comes to tweets, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers would prefer a more deliberative approach.

"Many of those messages, I would wish they were vetted with key players on his staff prior to hitting the send button. But this is the style of our president and I think our country will adjust to it," Womack said Thursday.

One year after taking office, Trump is still learning how to govern, Womack said.

"I think he's going to get better at it and frankly we need to give him the time and the space to be able to make those adjustments so he can be all that he can be as president," he said. "So far, I give him high marks for what he's been able to accomplish for our country."

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle said Trump's tweets can be an effective communication tool.

"Frequently he's used Twitter to very good effect," he said Wednesday.

When Trump tweeted support for Iranian protesters earlier this year, "I thought that was an outstanding use of Twitter to signal to the world that this president supports the oppressed peoples of Iran in resisting their regime," Cotton said.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs tunes out much of the Twitter-related hubbub.

"I really don't pay much attention to what he's tweeting," he said Wednesday. "As one who doesn't tweet a lot, I think I would prefer that he tweet less, but I'm not him. It seems to work for him."

The Twitter account doesn't seem to be an impediment to progress, Westerman said.

"I can't say that it's hurt so far. I mean, we've got a lot of stuff accomplished," he said.

A Section on 01/12/2018