On Twitter, campaigns dog each other with insults

Wed Apr 18, 2012 2:48pm EDT
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By Sam Youngman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - It's either an amusing way to follow the 2012 presidential campaign, or the death rattle for meaningful political discourse in America.

Either way, top campaign aides to Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have taken to Twitter with relish, in daily verbal battles that underscore how negative - and silly - the campaign could be during the next six-plus months.

The battles on the social media website, generally sparked by a "tweet" from either Obama adviser David Axelrod or Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, create what amount to several news cycles in a single day, with waves of messages - each of them less than 140 characters.

The campaigns' latest dive into pettiness came late Tuesday, as Fehrnstrom and Axelrod jousted over the issue of ... dogs.

Fehrnstrom clearly had been waiting for a chance to return zingers from Axelrod over Romney's much-publicized family trip to Canada in 1983, when Romney transported the family dog, Seamus, in a crate that was strapped to the top of the Romneys' car.

The episode, during which the dog lost control of his bowels, has been lampooned by Democrats who have portrayed Romney as an uncaring former corporate executive.

Axelrod mocked Romney's campaign by tweeting a photo of Obama in the presidential limousine with his dog, Bo.

"How loving owners transport their dogs," Axelrod wrote.   Continued...

U.S. President Barack Obama reacts after tweeting at his first ever Twitter Town Hall in the East Room at the White House in Washington, July 6, 2011. REUTERS/Larry Downing