Animated Loading
Having trouble loading this page? Get help troubleshooting.

In or out of the House, John Dingell was at home on Twitter

Published
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2012 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., addresses supporters during the Michigan Democratic election night party at the MGM Grand Detroit. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

DETROIT (AP) — Right up until the end, John Dingell wouldn't go down without a fight — or a tweet.

The longest-serving member of Congress in American history, who died on Thursday at age 92, boasted more than 250,000 followers on the account he started in 2010. After his wife, current Rep. Debbie Dingell, tweeted Wednesday — the day before he died — that she was home with him and they had "entered a new phase" as he was receiving hospice care, news stories proliferated.

Well wishes poured in. John Dingell even gained about 4,000 followers over the course of the day. Still, he said in a tweet later Wednesday that he was grateful, but not giving up.

"The Lovely Deborah is insisting I rest and stay off here, but after long negotiations we've worked out a deal where she'll keep up with Twitter for me as I dictate the messages," his tweet said. "I want to thank you all for your incredibly kind words and prayers. You're not done with me just yet."

Dingell, who announced in early 2014 that he would not run for a 30th full term representing a district covering some of Detroit's suburbs and the Ann Arbor area, was long known for his wry takes and quick wit alongside his mastery of legislative deal-making. But the outspoken Democrat's social media musings — let alone presence on the platform — drew widespread interest and kept him au courant.

"Buddy, I think you might want to sit this one out," came a tweet by Dingell on Feb. 2 that was addressed to President Donald Trump. The commander in chief said the man who ran against Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam should "be thinking Malpractice and Dereliction of Duty with regard to his Opposition Research Staff" after the revelation that a photo of two men in blackface and KKK costumes was put on Northam's medical school yearbook page back in 1984.

Dingell never held his fire or ire for Trump on Twitter, referring to him last month as "idiot president" and "crook" in tweets about the partial government shutdown. Earlier, he called the president, no slouch at name-calling, a "damned two-bit grafter" and has lobbed many other sobriquets more colorful and profane.

It doesn't appear that Donald Trump had ever tweeted about Dingell during his life, but on Friday the president tweeted his "deepest sympathies" to the Dingell family.

"Longest serving Congressman in Country's history which, if people understand politics, means he was very smart," Trump's tweet said. "A great reputation and highly respected man."

Dingell made no apologies about his party affiliation, tweeting often last year in support of Democratic candidates in the midterm elections. He even offered some incentive to GOP lawmakers to step aside: "To my Republican friends in Congress: Retirement is a blast. Naps. Snacks. Join me."

While he was no shrinking partisan violet, Dingell also used the social media machine to play nice. A man named Mike tweeted to Dingell, "I never liked you when I was a young, dumb Republican," but came to see him as "part of a vanishing breed of legislators who worked with each other, respected each other and, in most cases, liked each other." Dingell thanked him and added, "No matter our party affiliation, we are all in the same boat. We cannot turn to our neighbor and say 'I'm sorry but your end of the boat is sinking.'"

Dingell considered President George H.W. Bush a "dear friend," but also an "honest" one who would "often remark that I could be a 'giant pain in the ass' at times." That came in a tweet in which he told Bush, who died in November, to "rest well."

Tweets also were common about sports, particularly Dingell's beloved Detroit pro teams and the University of Michigan, and he often punctuated posts about the latter with #Hail and #GoBlue.

Recognizing the reality of Detroit's perennially struggling pro football team, he tweeted "Lions gonna Lion" on Sept. 30, the day his team lost 26-24 to the Dallas Cowboys. A week earlier, he tweeted, "God grant me the strength to make it through this Lions game without incident" on the day the lowly Lions actually beat the eventual Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots.

Dingell never shied away from acknowledging his advanced age. He thanked everybody for birthday wishes last July, adding "I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 92," an apparent reference to Taylor Swift's song,"22."

In a Thanksgiving greeting, he managed to combine many of his favorite Twitter topics and targets: "Our President may be a sentient sack of sweet potatoes and horrible ideas, but I'm sure thankful the American(s) came out in droves to put a check on him and his cronies this past election. Happy Thanksgiving. Go Lions."

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who served in Congress on the other side of the aisle from Dingell, was among his Twitter followers. Kasich, who spoke to The Associated Press after reports that Dingell was in hospice but before his death, recalled the Democrat's power and toughness as well as his kindness and collegiality — traits that transferred well to Twitter.

"I think it's possible in this new, information age to not have to hold public office and still have a voice — that's clearly what he has done," Kasich said of Dingell. "It takes a certain uniqueness to draw a following. ... You have to have something you do that is interesting to people. Clearly, Dingell is just a guy who is interesting."

Even in Dingell's cutting tweets, Kasich envisioned them coming with "a kind of twinkle in his eye."

"I'm not surprised he would still be dictating his thoughts through Twitter," Kasich said. "If it was possible for him, once he reaches the promised land — I wouldn't be surprised if he tried to figure out a way to tweet from there."

___

Follow Jeff Karoub on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeffkaroub

___

See AP's complete coverage of John Dingell here: https://apnews.com/JohnDingell

FILE- In this Sept. 24, 2008 file photo, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., right, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.(AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
FILE- In this April 7, 1987 file photo, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., left, and John Dingell, D-Mich. hold a news conference at Capitol Hill, in Washington, to release a report on Alzheimers disease. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)
FILE - In this April 21, 2015 file photo, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell pushes the wheelchair of her husband, retired Congressman John Dingell after the funeral of Detroit-area businessman and philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Mich. Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP, File)
FILE - In this July 29, 2015 file photo, former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., speaks at an event marking the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid on Capitol Hill in Washington. Former Michigan Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, has died. He was 92. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell says her husband died at his Dearborn home on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - In this July 29, 2015 file photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., standing with former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., holds up the gavel Dingell used 50 years ago when Medicare legislation was passed during an event marking the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE- In a Feb. 4, 2009 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. poses for a photograph inside his office in House Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
FILE - In a June 12, 1979 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., comments on President Jimmy Carter during an interview in his Capitol Hill office in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/John Duricka, File)
FILE - In this June 2, 1977 file photo, President Jimmy Carter hosts a breakfast in the Family Dining Room of the White House in Washington for House Subcommittee members on Energy and Power. From left are Rep. John M. Murphy (D-N.Y.), Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), President Carter, Rep. Harley Staggers (D-W Va.), Rep. Andrew Maguire (D-N.J.), and Rep. Timothy Wirth (D-Colo.). Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Charles Harrity, File)
FILE - In this May 7, 2014 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2013 file photo, House Democrats, including Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., center, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, make their way to the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi before a vote in Congress, at the Capitol in Washington. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. He was 92. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE - In this July 29, 2015 file photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., standing with former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., holds up the gavel Dingell used 50 years ago when Medicare legislation was passed during an event marking the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - In this July 29, 2015 file photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., standing with former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., holds up the gavel Dingell used 50 years ago when Medicare legislation was passed during an event marking the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - In a June 12, 1979 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., comments on President Jimmy Carter during an interview in his Capitol Hill office in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/John Duricka, File)
FILE - In a June 12, 1979 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., comments on President Jimmy Carter during an interview in his Capitol Hill office in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/John Duricka, File)
FILE - In this May 7, 2014 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
FILE - In this May 7, 2014 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
FILE - In this July 29, 2015 file photo, former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., speaks at an event marking the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid on Capitol Hill in Washington. Former Michigan Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, has died. He was 92. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell says her husband died at his Dearborn home on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - In this July 29, 2015 file photo, former Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., speaks at an event marking the 50th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid on Capitol Hill in Washington. Former Michigan Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, has died. He was 92. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell says her husband died at his Dearborn home on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2013 file photo, House Democrats, including Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., center, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, make their way to the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi before a vote in Congress, at the Capitol in Washington. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. He was 92. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE - In this Oct. 5, 2013 file photo, House Democrats, including Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., center, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, make their way to the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi before a vote in Congress, at the Capitol in Washington. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. He was 92. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2012 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., addresses supporters during the Michigan Democratic election night party at the MGM Grand Detroit. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2012 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., addresses supporters during the Michigan Democratic election night party at the MGM Grand Detroit. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
FILE- In this April 7, 1987 file photo, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., left, and John Dingell, D-Mich. hold a news conference at Capitol Hill, in Washington, to release a report on Alzheimers disease. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)
FILE- In this April 7, 1987 file photo, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., left, and John Dingell, D-Mich. hold a news conference at Capitol Hill, in Washington, to release a report on Alzheimers disease. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)
FILE- In this Sept. 24, 2008 file photo, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., right, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.(AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
FILE- In this Sept. 24, 2008 file photo, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., right, accompanied by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell.(AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)
FILE - In this June 2, 1977 file photo, President Jimmy Carter hosts a breakfast in the Family Dining Room of the White House in Washington for House Subcommittee members on Energy and Power. From left are Rep. John M. Murphy (D-N.Y.), Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), President Carter, Rep. Harley Staggers (D-W Va.), Rep. Andrew Maguire (D-N.J.), and Rep. Timothy Wirth (D-Colo.). Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Charles Harrity, File)
FILE - In this June 2, 1977 file photo, President Jimmy Carter hosts a breakfast in the Family Dining Room of the White House in Washington for House Subcommittee members on Energy and Power. From left are Rep. John M. Murphy (D-N.Y.), Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), President Carter, Rep. Harley Staggers (D-W Va.), Rep. Andrew Maguire (D-N.J.), and Rep. Timothy Wirth (D-Colo.). Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Charles Harrity, File)
FILE- In a Feb. 4, 2009 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. poses for a photograph inside his office in House Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
FILE- In a Feb. 4, 2009 file photo, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. poses for a photograph inside his office in House Rayburn Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
FILE - In this April 21, 2015 file photo, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell pushes the wheelchair of her husband, retired Congressman John Dingell after the funeral of Detroit-area businessman and philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Mich. Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP, File)
FILE - In this April 21, 2015 file photo, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell pushes the wheelchair of her husband, retired Congressman John Dingell after the funeral of Detroit-area businessman and philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield, Mich. Former U.S. Rep. John Dingell, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history who mastered legislative deal-making and was fiercely protective of Detroit's auto industry, has died at age 92. Dingell, who served in the U.S. House for 59 years before retiring in 2014, died Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019, at his home in Dearborn, said his wife, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell. (Todd McInturf/Detroit News via AP, File)