Debate season is now officially over and the lasting, indelible image of the candidates' three sparring sessions has nothing to do with the president, the challenger, the moderators or even Jeremy Epstein.
It's Big Bird. With a binder stuffed under one wing. And riding a horse while clutching a bayonet in his felt-and-feathery hands.
Meme-ories: 'Binders full of women' is debate's online hit
The meme factory that was the 2012 presidential debates served up one more feast for the Internet Monday night when Republican nominee Mitt Romney criticized the president for trimming the number of U.S. naval ships. The president responded, "You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military's changed."
You could almost feel the ground quake as an anxious nation of tweeters pounded their keyboards simultaneously, seizing upon the president's imagery. The hashtag #horsesandbayonets quickly began to trend and was still the third most-tweeted topic into Tuesday afternoon.
We've gathered up some of our favorite tweets right here; if we missed any other good ones, share your favorites with us in the comments!
You guys realize that unicorns are basically horses with bayonets growing out of their heads, right?
— laura_hudson (@laura_hudson) October 23, 2012
What are the chances of hearing your safe word during a presidential debate? #horsesandbayonets
— Jill Kushner (@TheJillKushner) October 23, 2012
— Michael Sharp (@rexparker) October 23, 2012
So now we know that the real reason Ann Romney has that horse. Preparation for war. #horsesandbayonets
— Reba723 (@Reba723) October 23, 2012
— David (@dpan) October 23, 2012
Mr. Obama's "horses and bayonets" line was the most-tweeted moment of the debate, generating 105,767 tweets per minute (TPM?), according to Twitter. All told, 6.5 million debate tweets were fired off during the candidates' final meeting.
A huge number, but 700,000 fewer than the 7.2 million from the previous debate at Fordham University and a good drop-off of the 10.3 million tweets from the first debate.