While Rep. Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden went head-to-head in their only debate of the 2012 campaign on Thursday, a separate battle was being waged by the Romney and Obama rapid response teams on Twitter.
Before Thursday’s faceoff, both campaigns blasted emails encouraging supporters to follow their Twitter handles for fact-checks, as well as real-time rebuttals of their opponents. The Obama camp rolled out a new rapid response Twitter handle @OFAdebates, which the campaign used Thursday and will use during both of the remaining Obama-Romney debates.
Hit for their slow response in the wake of President Obama’s weak opening debate performance, the president’s team was clearly the more eager ahead of the debate as its rapid response account began laying the groundwork in the form of a hashtag: #RyansChoice.
Will Ryan embrace Medicare savings like he did in his budget, or attack them like he does on the stump? #RyansChoice— OFA Debate Response (@OFADebates) October 12, 2012
Members of the Obama team also mirrored the messages on their own Twitter handles.
Will Ryan embrace Medicare savings like he did in his budget, or attack them like he does on the stump? #RyansChoice— Jim Messina (@Messina2012) October 12, 2012
The Romney campaign was tweeting from its @RomneyResponse handle and spent the early part of the debate underscoring Ryan’s Obama administration critiques.
Obama’s foreign policy is unraveling in the Middle East and America’s security is threatened throughout the world. #CantAfford4More— RomneyResponse (@RomneyResponse) October 12, 2012
Later in the night, Romney's rapid response team rolled out a Biden lie counter.
The downside: Neither rapid response team really picked up the debate’s buzzwords. While Biden’s Libya response was generating Twitter hashtags like #malarkey, the response teams were busy churning out more careful foreign policy-related tweets rather than taking advantage of some of the debate’s more memorable moments.
One positive for Obama’s response team—they were better at highlighting tweets from their own campaign staffers. Romney’s rapid response team, meanwhile, effectively compared Biden’s debate statements with some of his previous comments.