While offering only 140 characters, Twitter (News - Alert) has quickly emerged as one of the more dominant political mediums for the 2012 presidential election race, helping add fire to an already-explosive war of words between President Obama and White House hopeful Mitt Romney.
The latest Twitter squabble erupted last week when Obama introduced "Julia," a hypothetical, middle-class character meant to provide a window into how Obama's recent policies affect a woman over her lifetime. The Obama administration tweeted out a link to the slideshow, encouraging voters to identify the number of ways Julia's life would be impaired under Mitt Romney's leadership.
Republicans were quick to respond via Twitter, blasting Obama and other democrats for the predicaments that Julia surely finds herself in, according to the Associated Press.
"Did u tell Julia how much debt you left her?" Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer tweeted.
"Based on today's bad unemployment report, it appears that Julia has given up looking for work," added former George W. Bush spokesman, Ari Fleischer.
Twitter also played host to the reaction to Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen's critique of Mitt's wife, Ann Romney, a stay-at-home mother who Rosen accused of never having "worked a day in her life."
While having no real affiliation with Rosen, the Obama administration felt the backlash of the comments and asked the wife of the commander-and-chief to respond.
"Every mother works hard and every woman deserves to be respected," the first lady tweeted.
The controversy eventually led to the first-ever tweet from Ann Romney, who talked about her choice to stay at home and raise five children.
"Believe me, it was hard work. All moms are entitled to choose their path," she tweeted.
The inherent truth of Twitter is that it provides a better podium for issuing criticism than drumming up support. The other opportunity Twitter provides is an avenue for self-entrapment.
A number of political figures, including Romney's former foreign policy spokesman, Richard Grenell, have been forced to step down after sending inappropriate tweets.
"You're more likely to be embarrassed by what's said on Twitter than to be praised," Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Pew (News - Alert) Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, told the AP. "The things that go viral tend to be jokes and tend to be mocking."
But Twitter's most influential role in the campaign may be the site's ability to capture the overriding thoughts of the American people. Each campaign can use Twitter to monitor news coverage, rumors and reactions – and respond accordingly.
Researchers have even been able to measure the tone of Twitter to create a general review of each candidate and their platforms. Ironically, Ron Paul has solidified his place as the most popular political figure on Twitter – well ahead of GOP hopeful Mitt Romney.
Edited by Braden Becker