Leaders who follow: What candidates' Twitter lists reveal

AP News
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Posted: Oct 05, 2015 2:34 PM
Leaders who follow: What candidates' Twitter lists reveal

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Jeb Bush follows Donald Trump on Twitter but that's a one-way street: Trump mainly follows people with a connection to himself. Ted Cruz's follow list is a big tea party, though he keeps an eye on President Barack Obama, too.

Marco Rubio seems open to following everyone under the sun — Democrats, fellow Republicans, insiders of every type and an odd assortment of outliers who offer advice on matters ranging from body-piercing to playing craps and getting out of debt.

Using Twitter to get a message out is now a must-do for presidential candidates, but looking at the accounts they follow can be instructive, too. Their follow list can reflect not only their personality and interests, but sometimes their strategy. In Rubio's case, it seems to reflect a bit of a problem with spam, as well.

Overall, their choices reflect an interest in people who think like they do. Few Republicans or Democrats want to follow what people on the other side say. And most — Democrats Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders among them — don't follow most or any of their party rivals.

Some candidates rely on hired help to tend their social media affairs, especially those with lots of money and staff, so it's not always clear who's doing the tweeting or the following.

Trump, though, is known to spend the wee hours lobbing rhetorical bombs at Twitter. Cruz, said spokesman Rick Tyler, "does follow Twitter virtually all day long between events." John Kasich has orderly lists of Ohio political and media groups, like a clothes closet organized by style and color. A flood of first-person tweets from others, too, suggests a personal interest in the platform. Jeb Bush, for example, has been tweeting about policy and family since long before his campaign.

A recent snapshot of whom the leading presidential candidates were following on Twitter, as of Sunday afternoon, listed in order of who has the most Twitter followers:

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Hillary Rodham Clinton (@HillaryClinton)

Followers: 4.38 million

Following: 290

Last account followed: Singer Marc Anthony (@MarcAnthony).

Whom she follows: Until a few weeks ago, Clinton almost exclusively followed campaign-related accounts and staff. Since then, she's expanded her follow list and added several new celebrities.

Whom she doesn't follow: Her Democratic rivals, reporters or media accounts.

Notable: Actor Tom Hanks (@tomhanks), singer Katy Perry (@katyperrry), singer Mariah Carey (@MariahCary), comedian Amy Schumer (@amyschumer)

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Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

Followers: 4.35million

Following: 44

Last account followed: Katrina Campins (@KatrinaCampins), who appeared on the first season of "The Apprentice" with Donald Trump.

Whom he follows: Nearly half are accounts linked to Trump properties and companies. Many of the rest are national news figures or celebrities.

Whom he doesn't follow: His opponents in the presidential campaign, Fox newswoman Megyn Kelly.

Notables: Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler (@IamStevenT), NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson), World Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player (@garyplayer)

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Marco Rubio (@marcorubio)

Followers: 886,000

Following: 2,554

Last account followed: Ethan Demme (@EthanDemme), CEO of a company that provides material for homeschool parents.

Whom he follows: Just about anybody and anything. Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, tea partyers, business leaders, Florida capital insiders, and a how-to-quit-smoking account.

Whom he doesn't follow: Jeb Bush, his political mentor and 2016 rival.

Notables: Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nolan Carroll (@CarrollCity), Miami Dolphins running back Jonas Gray (@jgray_ND25)

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Rand Paul (@RandPaul)

Followers: 693,000

Following: 393

Last account followed: Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders), a CNN producer.

Whom he follows: Republican politicians and strategists, very heavy list of news organizations and national reporters. Unlike most of the GOP candidates, he follows President Barack Obama.

Whom he doesn't follow: Jeb Bush.

Notables: Actors James Woods (@RealJamesWoods), Kevin Spacey (@KevinSpacy) and John Cusack (@JohnCusack).

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Ben Carson (@RealBenCarson)

Followers: 700,000

Following: 48

Last account followed: Budding Nihilist (@JGreenDC), Independent Journal editor.

Whom he follows: A mix of conservative news and political accounts and veterans and Christian accounts.

Whom he doesn't follow: Republican presidential rivals, other than Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Notables: Former NFL coach Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy), boxer Evander Holyfield (@holyfield), Chip Gaines (@chippergaines) of HGTV's "Fixer Upper."

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Ted Cruz (@tedcruz)

Followers: 518,000

Following: 13,840

Last account followed: Lauren Beieler (@laurenbeeliner), whose profile reads, "I heart Jesus. Plain and simple. and i like cheese. A lot."

Whom he follows: Lots and lots of people who have one or more of the following as a profile or background photo: an American flag, a Confederate flag, a Don't Tread on Me Flag or a bald eagle.

Whom he doesn't follow: Nonconservatives, except President Barack Obama — a rare exception.

Notables: Old Southern Moonshine Revival (@OSMRmusic), Classic Rock Lyrics (@RockWsdm)

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Carly Fiorina (@CarlyFiorina)

Followers: 579,000

Following: 689

Last account followed: American Airlines (@AmericanAir)

Whom she follows: A lot of Iowa Republican groups, politicians and media. California tech industry.

Whom she doesn't follow: Republican presidential candidates.

Notables: Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers), Maria Shriver (@MariaShriver), BOTeleprompter (@BOTeleprompter), a parody account that pretends to be President Barack Obama's Teleprompter

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Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders)

Followers: 616,000

Following: 1,281

Last account followed: Lauren Dezenski (@LaurenDezenski), reporter.

Whom he follows: News media, celebrities, labor unions.

Whom he doesn't follow: Democratic rival Hillary Rodham Clinton and politicians in general.

Notables: Movie director Spike Lee (@SpikeLee), actress Rashida Jones (@iamrashidajones), Go-Go's lead singer Belinda Carlisle (@belindaofficial)

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Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee)

Followers: 411,000

Following: 495

Last account followed: Katie Couric (@katiecouric)

Whom he follows: Christians, flat tax supporters, 2016 rivals Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal

Whom he doesn't follow: 2016 rivals Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum

Notables: Arnold Schwarzenegger (@Schwarzenegger), Bill Clinton (@billclinton), Actor and veterans advocate Gary Sinise (@GarySinise)

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Jeb Bush (@JebBush)

Followers: 325,000

Following: 193

Last account followed: South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (@AGAlanWilson).

Whom he follows: Florida and national Republican politicians, many of his opponents for president. Many of the Bush clan, including his father.

Whom he doesn't follow: Democrats.

Notables: Rapper Pitbull (@pitbull), Pope Francis (@Pontifex), golfer Greg Norman (@SharkGregNorman)

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John Kasich (@JohnKasich)

Followers: 111,000

Following: 9,703

Last account followed: Joe Sullivan (@JoeSully4) Harvard University director of men's basketball operation.

Whom he follows: Seemingly every Republican member of Congress, Republican clubs from coast to coast, and many people who declare support for his Republican opponents in their background photo.

Whom he doesn't follow: Democrats, except @HillaryClinton; rival Donald Trump.

Notables: Boxer Evander Holyfield (@holyfield), "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon (@jimmyfallon)

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Chris Christie (@ChrisChristie)

Followers: 55,381

Following: 175

Last follow: The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow)

Whom he follows: Heavy mix of Republican politicians, news media and sports and music figures.

Whom he doesn't follow: His opponents in the presidential campaign.

Notables: Musicians Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) and Bruno Mars (@BrunoMars), broadcaster Howard Stern (@HowardStern), basketball player LeBron James (@KingJames), Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys)

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Follow Brendan Farrington on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/bsfarrington