As impeachment roils, Perry, GOP see chance for exposure
The impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump continues, as do the thousands of daily tweets about it. And U.S. Rep. Scott Perry hasn't shied away from the scrum.
The Carroll Township Republican and member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus has tweeted or retweeted remarks slamming the prospects of impeachment at least 180 times since public hearings began this past month, according to an analysis by The York Dispatch.
The Republican has roughly quintupled his Twitter output over the past month, at times reaching more than 60 tweets in one day.
"Previous to her testimony today, Pamela Karlan quipped that she 'had to cross the street' when walking by the Trump Hotel in Washington," Perry wrote on Wednesday after the Stanford Law School professor testified. "Do you think she’s an objective witness in these proceedings?"
Such tweets have amassed tens of thousands of likes, retweets and comments.
G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College, said the sudden activity is a clear attempt to rally the GOP base ahead of the 2020 elections.
"It's not just about the followers, it's about getting on the record —what he's going to do with the Trump support in his district among Republican voters," Madonna said. "He can't waver, because then he's in no-person's land. He loses Republicans and he's not going to get Democrats."
Already, Perry has taken heat from his right flank, as GOP primary challenger Bobby Jeffries has accused him of not being supportive enough of Trump.
That comes on top of attacks from the two potential Democratic challengers looking to challenge Perry in November 2020: Hershey-based author and attorney Tom Brier and state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
Social media's presence during the impeachment process remained prominent as of Thursday, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., instructed Democrats to go full-steam ahead in drafting articles of impeachment against Trump.
Perry is far from the only lawmaker who has seized on the opportunity to elevate his profile by vocally defending the president.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, another member of the Freedom Caucus, has made waves across national media while sitting on the House Intelligence Committee during the hearings, being dubbed Trump's top defender.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., last month made her way into the national spotlight as a staunch supporter of the president during the impeachment hearings and used the sudden notoriety as a fundraising tool.
As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Stefanik adamantly defended Trump — and received his praise — while taking opportunities to slam the committee's chairman, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
Witness Fiona Hill, a former official at the U.S. National Security Council, testified recently that House Republicans, in their zeal to defend Trump, were parroting Russian President Vladimir Putin's propaganda and furthering his country's disinformation campaign.
"(The tweets are) increasing their name identification," Madonna said. "It puts them on record in terms of whether they support or oppose."
But not all Republicans are making so much noise on Twitter or in hearings.
Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, for example, has only tweeted about the impeachment hearings 16 times since they began. Although he has been critical of the process, his rhetoric over the last month has been much less aggressive than Perry's.
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.