Democrats could barely contain their glee after Mitt Romney proposed a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry over his health care position.
“He’s going to own that $10,000 bet line,” DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse said on Twitter. “Nothing else he has said in this debate matters.”
Before the debate ended, the DNC was out with an e-mail to reporters trying to put the $10,000 number into perspective, noting it was more than the average in-state tuition at a public university, for example.
But it was Twitter where things really took off. DNC officials, starting with press secretary Melanie Roussell, began tweeting a #What10kbuys hashtag to amplify their message, with items like a year of daycare for the average family. Within less than a half hour of the debate’s end, it was one of the top trending topics not just in Iowa, or in the United States, but around the world, according to Twitter.
“I’ll bet you ten thousand beers Mitt lives to regret that $10K bet line,” Democratic strategist Paul Begala tweeted.
The episode recalled Romney’s “corporations are people” moment at an Iowa event, which Democrats pounced on in similar fashion. Romney responded to that episode, which many observers interpreted as a gaffe at the time, by doubling down on the line and using it again on the trail and in his official economic plan.
It appears they’re taking a similar tack this time as well. Romney spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, for his part, told TPM that he thought the line went over just fine, describing it as a “good moment” for the former Massachusetts governor.
“It made Perry look weak,” he said, adding that Romney made the wager “because he knew Perry wouldn’t take it.”
Evan McMorris-Santoro contributed to this post.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.