Does President Obama sometimes forget about the recession?
That's what he said at a campaign rally in Seattle on Thursday, and that's what Mitt Romney's campaign wants voters to believe. The remarks ignited a firestorm across the Twittersphere as critics of Obama sent out tweets using the hashtag #Obamaforgot.
At the Paramount Theater in Seattle, Obama spoke to supporters about his vision for the future, giving a vanilla stump speech, for the most part, except these lines:
"It was a house of cards, and it collapsed in the most destructive, worst crisis that we’ve seen since the Great Depression," Obama said of the previous administration's policies, according to a transcript released by the White House. "And sometimes people forget the magnitude of it, you know?... Sometimes I forget."
Immediately, Romney spokesman Ryan Williams jumped on the line, which he says sparked his interest when it was tweeted by BuzzFeed reporter Zeke Miller.
Williams tweeted: "39 mths of 8%+ unemployment #ObamaForgot RT@ZekeJMiller:Obama on recession: Sometime people 4get the magnitude of it..sometimes I forget it."
"I retweeted [Zeke's tweet], and several things that the president had forgotten with that hashtag," Williams told National Journal."From there it kind of took off some more."
Miller tweeted at 6:07 p.m.; Williams' first #ObamaForgot-hashtagged tweet was sent at 6:31 p.m. And, as Williams said, it took off from there, with Obama detractors tweeting out things he "forgot" -- ranging from approving the Keystone XL pipeline to the change he promised in 2008. The hashtag peaked at over 4,400 mentions around 7:11 p.m. according to Twitter analytics site Topsy, though by 9 p.m. it had dropped in frequency. The hashtag was, at one point, trending worldwide on Twitter.
This isn't the first time the campaigns have taken the election battle to Twitter, where political messaging can run amok when left to the devices of unmoderated, unfiltered users. Most recently, Republicans used the hashtag #Julia to flip the narrative on an interactive slideshow released by the Obama campaign to show how Obama's policies helped women. Prior to that, both the "war on women" and the controversy surrounding the candidates' treatment of dogs played out over Twitter almost as much as they played out in the mainstream media.
And this is another issue that may have bloomed on Twitter but will likely flourish offline, as Williams said the Romney campaign will be driving home the idea of Obama "distracting" from his economic policies throughout the course of the election season.
"We'll be talking frequently over the course of the campaign about how this president wants voters to forget about his policies," he said, calling Obama's statement "an incredibly out-of-touch remark."