Entries in Horses and Bayonets (2)


'Horses and Bayonets' Become Campaign Fodder in Battleground Virginia

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- It started as a snarky comeback when President Obama knocked down Mitt Romney for arguing that the Navy is now smaller than any time since 1917 with the reminder that the military has fewer "horses and bayonets." But the punch line quickly became real campaign fodder in the razor-thin Senate race between Tim Kaine, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, and George Allen, a former Republican senator.

The comments could now play a role in determining whether Democrats are able to hold on to the open Senate seat being vacated by Jim Webb and whether Obama can once again pull out a win in the battleground state.

Within hours of the debate, Allen's campaign released a statement ripping Obama's "disregard" for the potential loss of "200,000 Virginia jobs."

And in a campaign ad less than two days after his comments, Allen, 60, tied Kaine to Obama, suggesting that the two Democrats support draconian cuts to the military.

"Decisions in Washington ripple through our communities, harming small businesses," Allen said in the spot. "My plan will stop defense cuts by growing our economy, using our energy resources and creating jobs. My job is to fight for yours."

Kaine's campaign responded, saying that Kaine, 54, has always opposed deep defense cuts and Allen's claims in the ad are a "transparently partisan attempt to win re-election."

The debate is a staple of politics in Virginia, home of the largest U.S. Naval base, Naval Station Norfolk, and the fourth-largest federal workforce, according to the most recent Census data from 2009.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said Democrats and Republicans campaigning in the state at the federal level have always had to dance around the issue of federal spending, which is at least partly responsible for the relative health of Virginia's economy.

"[Democrats] point out that the federal government is essential to Virginia's strong economy and its one of the reasons we have a 5.9 percent unemployment rate," Sabato told ABC News. "What Republicans do is they attack federal spending but they exempt defense."

The stakes are high in a Senate race that could not be tighter. The race between Allen and Kaine is virtually tied, as it has been for nearly the entire election, according to the Real Clear Politics poll average.

And Romney has also staked his fate in Virginia on his plan for the Navy, which he says has fewer ships now than it needs to carry out its mission.

His campaign Thursday released a new radio ad lampooning Obama's "horses and bayonets" comment.

"To Mitt Romney, that's a problem, to President Obama, it's a chance to deliver a punch line," the ad says. "Does President Obama know how much his defense cuts will hurt us?"

The ad is also being run in other states, including Florida.

But Obama also hopes to pull off a repeat performance of his 2008 sweep in Virginia. He faces a difficult, some say daunting task. Virginia has only voted for one Democrat, Obama, in the past 40 years.

Obama did it in 2008 by winning several states won by George W. Bush in 2004. But Sabato says Obama risks losing by wide margins in this election in the southwestern counties least hospitable to Democrats.

"You've seen a virtual collapse among whites and particularly white males in rural areas," Sabato said. "Obama is going to crash and burn in southwest Virginia, but his goal is to reduce the massive loss."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Wins Twitter War with ‘Horses and Bayonets’

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- President Obama won Monday night’s Twitter war with the weapons of yore, replying to Mitt Romney’s complaint that the Navy will soon see its smallest fleet since 1917 by saying, “We also have fewer horses and bayonets.”

“We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them,” Obama cheekily informed Romney. "We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

But even as the Republican challenger’s advisers tried to bounce the “zinger” back at the president — top aide Stu Stevens called the line demeaning to the military — Twitter sprung into meme-making mode.

By 9:45 p.m. ET, the microblog was seeing 105,767 tweets per minute (out of 6.5 million total) reporting or riffing on Obama’s taunt. More than a half hour after the debate, #horsesandbayonets was still going strong, trending worldwide.

Esquire politics writer Charlie Pierce chimed in to list “things we also have fewer of,” among them: “pikes, blunderbusses, flintlocks, and stone knives.”

Within minutes, @RomneyBinders, a creation of Romney’s boast during the previous debate that, as Massachusetts governor, he had picked his female cabinet officers from “binders full of women,” changed its handle to @HorsesBayonette. The merged account had more than 34,200 followers by midnight.

By 11 p.m., the rest of the Internet was playing catch up, vaulting “horses and bayonets” to the top of Google’s “Top 5 Rising Searches” list, right ahead of “Syria” and “drones.”

Tumblr got moving a little later, with appearing and beginning to aggregate some of the more clever memes that had been accumulating on the web.

“The Most Interesting Man in The World” made a late appearance on the site. “I don’t always fight wars,” the often-spoofed Dos Equis beer ad character begins, “But when I do, I use horses and bayonets.”

Earlier in the debate, Obama deployed a put-down of a more recent vintage while harping on Romney’s past comment that Russia “is without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe.”

The 1980s are “calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years,” Obama said, before accusing Romney of wanting “to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.”


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio