GOP recess manual emphasizes daily 'retweet,' social media

A strategy manual recently released by the House GOP conference directs members to "retweet" a link to GOP materials every weekday until mid-September as a strategy for educating voters.

The 22-page packet — aimed at helping Republicans campaign during August recess — also encourages members to send Facebook messages and create YouTube videos promoting GOP policy positions.

The materials for linking, it reads, might come from the "America Speaking Out" website, a forum launched by the GOP to solicit policy ideas, although the manual emphasizes certain policy topics — such as job creation, national security and healthcare — as "priorities."

According to one section, AmericaSpeakingOut.com has netted more than 600,000 votes on 12,000 policy ideas since its May 25 launch. 

A social-media push makes sense for the House GOP on the verge of election season. Republican members have already outpaced their Democratic colleagues in Facebook and Twitter usage -- infrastructure that was strengthened by the conference's six-week "New Media Challenge" modeled after the NCAA's March Madness.   

"The purpose of the contest is to help our members do better," a conference spokesman said, adding another goal was to "showcase members who are developing creative and innovative and otherwise novel new media tactics."

Critics, however, say that GOP's new-media messaging lacks imagination and that their online Web presence allows fringe opinions to gain traction.

Democrats launch their own new-media challenge in June, saying at its conclusion that they had gained more than "43,000 new fans, followers and subscribers," or 900 more than the GOP had gained.