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McCain gives his first Twitter-based interview

The former Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday participated in an interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos conducted entirely via the microblogging service.


A clarification has been added to this story. See below for details.

John McCain has come a long way, technologically, since his days on the 2008 campaign trail.

Less than a year ago, the Republican presidential hopeful admitted that he needed help logging onto the Internet. Now the 72-year-old, four-term senator is practically leading Washington's foray into the Web 2.0 realm as the subject of what ABC News claims is the first "Twitterview"-- an interview conducted entirely on Twitter.

It might be better said that this is the first such high-profile Twitterview. Interviews via Twitter, including ones with politicians, have been conducted before, such as an exchange in February involving John Culberson, a Texas Republican.

ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday interviewed McCain through the microblogging service. In no more than 20 minutes and 140 characters at a time, Stephanopoulos managed to ask the senator about AIG, Pakistan, and Iran, and whether President Obama is putting the nation at risk of another terrorist attack, among other things. McCain proved, however, that a character limit cannot stop a seasoned politician from using a bit of rhetorical agility to avoid a reporter's questions.

"AIG: Would a President McCain break bonus contracts?" GStephanopoulos asked.

"@GStephanopoulos i would have never bailed out AIG, the real scandal is billions to foreign banks," SenJohnMcCain replied.

McCain, who has been tweeting on a near-daily basis since late January, controls 100 percent of the content of his posts, according to his staff, and posts tweets either from his PC or his BlackBerry, which he may or may not have helped create.

The senator is one of 69 congress members on Twitter and certainly not the only one whose use of Web 2.0 tools may be subject to a learning curve, as evidenced by one congressman's announcement of a secret Iraq trip via Twitter.

Undeterred by such gaffes, at least four congressional committees now have their own Twitter accounts as well: the House Committees on Science and Technology, Education and Labor, Transportation and Infrastructure, and the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

Clarification, March 19, 6:37 a.m. PDT: This story initially implied that the McCain-Stephanopoulos exchange was the first-ever Twitter interview. We've since made note that this was a first for McCain and that other Twitterviews had previously taken place.