Obama gets the #bayonets moment on Twitter during the final debate

The final debate might have been close with most seeming  to give it to Barack Obama and only some to Mitt Romney, but what is certainly true is that the President had the biggest moments of the night on Twitter.

The Obama campaign has taken advantage of that by proving, as it has done throughout the campaign, to be quick off the mark and snapping up key search terms. This time it has bought the word “bayonets”, which unlikely as it sounds of being the word of the night in the final debate.

The third and final debate, where Obama played the foreign policy experience card and Romney played it safe, was also the quietest in terms of social media. While the first Presidential debate broke record as most Tweeted about political event the third and final debate was a long way off of that high.

The first debate saw 10.3 million tweets send, 7.2 million were sent in the second debate, and 6.5 million last night as the two candidates battled it out over foreign policy.

The most tweeted moment of the night came as Obama and Romney clashed about the changing nature of the US military and…bayonets.

Horses and bayonets

Romney remarked that the US Navy was “smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now at under 285. We’re headed down to the low 200s…that’s unacceptable to me.”

That gave Obama a perfect in to school Romney in the changing nature of modern warfare.

“But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works.

“You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed.

“And so the question is not a game of Battleship, where we’re counting slips. It’s what are our capabilities.”

It was the line about “horses and bayonets” that scored highest on Twitter and racked up 105,767 TPM.

Again that is a long way off of the high point of the first debate, which scored 158, 690 TPM.

A tweet about the bayonets line by deputy Obama campaign manager, Stephanie Cutter, retweeted by the president’s account was shared almost 7,000 times.

An @obamasbayonets and Horses and Bayonets spoof Twitter accounts quickly sprung up, but there was nothing last night to rival Big Bird in the first debate. Memes also sprang up quickly around horses and bayonets. There was also in lightening speed a Horses and Bayonets Tumblr. And that all happened before the debate was over.

The Obama campaign bought the word “bayonets” on Twitter as it trended. The campaign has been smart throughout with this tactic (via Matt Yurow).

While USA Today with this hashtag cloud it tweeted shows just how the word came to dominate the online conversation:

You sank my battleship

Obama’s comment about “battleships” also led to standout Twitter moments as former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry tweeted: “I think POTUS just sank Romney’s battleship”. His tweet was retweeted or favourited more than 6,000 times.

While the presence of Osama Bin Laden was also present. Bin Laden was one of the top Google search terms last night during the debate.

The killing of Bin Laden remains a success that the Obama campaign has been able to trade on during the campaign, and tweeted about last night during the debate, although some celebrities were keen to point out that it wasn’t Obama who did it:


That Donald Trump tweet was retweeted or shared more than 24,000 times. Making one of the biggest of last night.

While others in the form of the spoof Chris Rock Twitter account didn’t seem to think that mattered.