BOCA RATON, Fla. — Two of President Barack Obama’s top campaign operatives say it was the president himself who came up with the killer “horses and bayonets” zinger that he employed during Monday night’s presidential debate, while another key Obama adviser suggested someone else was the true author of the line.
During the debate, President Obama knocked Mitt Romney for wanting to increase the number of Navy ships if elected president.
“But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You — you mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916,” the president said.
“Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military’s changed.” (RELATED: Obama line about horses, bayonets fails fact-check)
Fair or unfair to Romney’s position, the line was one of the more memorable zingers of the night and was almost certainly pre-planned.
Asked in the spin room after the debate who authored the line, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina predictably gave credit to Obama the president for coming up with it.
“Barack Obama. Barack Obama. Barack Obama,” he declared to The Daily Caller.
“Look, I was in the room: Barack Obama,” he said when pressed. “I was in the room.”
Former Obama White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who is currently a senior adviser to President Obama’s campaign, also credited the president with coming up with the line, though his response was more tongue-in-cheek than Messina’s.
“The president has all the good ideas,” Gibbs said to TheDC.
But senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod wasn’t so quick to credit the president for the line.
“I know the answer to that, but I’m not at liberty to say,” he told TheDC before walking away.
One would imagine Axelrod would be at liberty to say if the author were the president.
According to Google, “horses and bayonets” was the top rising search term Monday night between 9:00 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.