‘Horses and bayonets’ the most tweeted moment of Monday’s debate

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Nothing seemingly stirs the world of social media debate less than foreign policy, but the third and final presidential debate Monday night was rife with viral quips and trending topics.

The Twittersphere hung its hat on several topics that came up in the debate, namely horses and bayonets, a Bob Schieffer gaffe, and domestic policy overshadowing foreign policy.

President Obama offered a sassy response to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney for his repeated attack over the shrinking size of the Navy. Obama said:

“You mention the Navy, for example, and the fact that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. We have these things called aircraft carriers and planes land on them. We have ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. It’s not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships.”

According to Wall Street Journal social media editor Liz Heron, the most-tweeted moment of the debate was #horsesandbayonets, at 105,767 tweets per minute.

Some tweets on the topic:

Sustainable energy expert Arian Ardie: “What does it say about America when ‪#horsesandbayonets‬ is the most tweeted in a foreign policy?”

MSNBC host Alex Wagner: “#HorsesAndBayonets the new #BigBird?”

Reporter for the New Mexico Telegram Matthew Reichbac: “Obama should have picked up a mic and dropped it after that #horsesandbayonets line.”

Filmmaker and podcaster Jonathan London: “Well, Obama just lost the Civil War Reenactment Society’s vote…”

Much has been made of the moderators of the past two presidential debates and the vice presidential debate. Monday’s moderator Bob Schieffer, of CBS News, seemed to keep the candidates on track. Although he caused a Twitter blip when he inadvertently discussed the death of “Obama” bin Laden.

The moment was not lost, causing the hashtag #obamabinladen to trend:

HuffPost Media said: “Whoops: Schieffer calls him ‘Obama’s bin Laden.”

Cracked.com tweeted: “Can we get rewind confirmation that Bob just said ‘Obamas Bin Laden’?”

Comedy writer Hari Kondabolu said: “Bob Schieffer is pretending he didn’t accidentally say ‘Obama Bin Laden’ but he did & he’s thinking about it right now.”

Viral video maker Jack Douglass advised: “If the moderator accidentally says ‘Obama Bin Laden’ chug a Smirnoff Ice. Wait — he DID?! HAHAHAHA DRINK UP.”

Beyond any zingers and gaffes, the candidates did not lose sight of the fact that polls show the No. 1 issue guiding voters this election is the economy and domestic issues. With awkward transitions, each of the candidates steered the answers to domestic issues. Some tweets:

Online performance artist Ze Frank quipped: “Dude, our education system is in trouble when it starts getting included in the foreign policy debates!”

Marketing director Callie Schweitzer tweeted: “Things not being discussed in the foreign policy debate: foreign policy.”

Hip hop artist Tedashii said: “When will another foreign policy discussion happen during this ‘foreign policy debate?’”

ABC News Washington D.C. editor Rick Klein offered: “Class size has to do with foreign policy … how?”

Wrapping up the debate season, was this tweet from comedy writer Jeff Wild:

“The debates are already over?! Damn I just got started losing and alienating followers…”

Gil Rudawsky heads up the crisis communication and issues management practice at GroundFloor Media in Denver. He is a former reporter and editor. Read his blog or contact him at grudawsky@groundfloormedia.com.

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