In a sign of how Twitter is already changing the playing field for 2012, top political aides for Mitt Romney and President Obama got into a verbal smackdown Wednesday over the president's health care law, signed into law exactly a year ago.
Mitt Romney senior aide Eric Fernstrom struck the first jab, directing a tweet to Obama senior political adviser David Axelrod that repeated Romney's position that if the potential 2012 candidate ever became president, he would issue an executive order on his first day in office that would lead to a repeal of "Obamacare."
" I wonder if @davidaxelrod will praise Romney's proposed executive order issuing Obamacare waivers to all 50 states?" Fehrnstrom wrote, aiming his shot toward the White House's tongue-in-cheek praise for the health care plan Romney instituted while governor of Massachusetts.
Axelrod has described the Massachusetts program as a blueprint for the president's, a claim unlikely to win Romney many Republican base voters in next year's crowded primary season.
Axelrod replied, "@EricFehrn I'm not going comment either way until he lands on his final position."
"I still admire what he did in MA on health care, though. In many ways, a model for the nation!" he added.
Ferhnstrom fired back, citing the nation's high unemployment rate.
"@davidaxelrod If you really want to get health insurance to more people, try giving them a job. 14m unemployed is a disgrace," he wrote.
Writing in the National Review Tuesday, Romney said that he would disassemble the president's plan by releasing the states from the federal obligations and allowing them to decide their own health care solutions.
"If I were president, on Day One I would issue an executive order paving the way for Obamacare waivers to all 50 states, " Romney wrote. " The ultimate goal is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with free-market reforms that promote competition and lower health-care costs. But since an outright repeal would take time, an executive order is the first step in returning power to the states."
The 2010 political cycle already demonstrated the power of social media as campaign operatives increasingly used sites like Twitter and Facebook not only to push and craft their messages but also to engage directly with the other side on heated topics.
2012, as evidenced by the latest exchange, shows the medium has already attracted the attention of the highest levels of political staffs.