The Washington Post

David Axelrod and Eric Fehrnstrom, Twitter frenemies

A few months ago, when the story of Mitt Romney’s dog Seamus’ ride on top of a car was once again in the news, a top strategist for President Obama took a subtle jab.

David Axelrod, the president’s closest political adviser, took to Twitter to declare that “loving owners” take their dogs inside the car, tweeting a photo of Obama carrying his dog Bo in the presidential limo.

How loving owners transport their

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) January 30, 2012

Last night, after a conservative blogger pointed out President Obama had confessed to eating dog in Indonesia, Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom tweeted:

In hindsight, a chilling photo RT @davidaxelrod: How loving owners transport their dogs.

— Eric Fehrnstrom (@EricFehrn) April 18, 2012

Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt came to Axelrod’s defense:

What’s the next attack @EricFerhn and the RNC will surface on a 6-10 year old?

— Ben LaBolt (@BenLaBolt) April 18, 2012

In truth, LaBolt probably could have let Axelrod handle it. This was far from the first time Axelrod and Fehrnstrom have tangled on Twitter.

Obviously, both strategists are defending their bosses at every opportunity, and social media is an easy outlet — and one that they know has a very high number of reporters spectating it. But beyond that, both men seem to love sparring over social media, often on subjects their official campaigns wouldn’t touch or in language they wouldn’t use.

And given how often they tweet @ each other — see what we did there? — it’s hard not to imagine they both enjoy each other’s virtual company (at least a little).

Here’s a brief history:

* On Bill Maher

Just a few days ago, Fehrnstrom took a shot at Axelrod for not repudiating comedian Maher, an Obama supporter, for defending Hilary Rosen, a Democratic strategist, who said Ann Romney had “never worked a day in her life.”

By not condemning Bill Maher, @davidaxelrod is signaling to supporters it’s OK to keep up the attacks on Ann Romney. Shame.

— Eric Fehrnstrom (@EricFehrn) April 14, 2012

Axelrod responded with a flurry of tweets higlighting offensive remarks made by Republicans and concluding:

@EricFehrn So until you have the guts to stand up to one of your own, you can take your studied outrage and stick it in...your Swiss bank!

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) April 14, 2012

* On Mad Men

After Axelrod said on CBS’ that Romney was living in a “time warp” and “watches ‘Mad Men’ instead of the evening news,” Fehrnstrom responded:

@davidaxelrod says Romney living in #MadMen “time warp.” You mean, when unemployment was lower, and the economy was expanding?

— Eric Fehrnstrom (@EricFehrn) April 3, 2012

And Axelrod responded by reminding Fehrnstrom of his “Etch-a-sketch” gaffe:

@EricFehrn No, when Russia was our greatest foe, bosses could dictate on women’s health & Etch-a-Sketch was a toy, not a political strategy.

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) April 3, 2012

* Unemployment

In January, Axelrod and Fehrnstrom argued over whether, as Romney himself claimed, more Americans lost their jobs under Obama “than any president in modern history.”

Axelrod started by linking to a chart showing the job situation getting worse under President Bush and slowly improving under Obama.

. @MittRomney A picture’s worth a thousand misleading words. This chart tells the story.

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) January 16, 2012

Fehrnstrom responded:

@davidaxelrod Why does Obama blame everyone but himself? If he were kicker on NFL team and missed a field goal, would he blame the wind?

— Eric Fehrnstrom (@EricFehrn) January 16, 2012

Nearly a dozen posts later, Axelrod reminded Fehrnstrom that there was a Republican primary debate that night:

@EricFehrn Dude, none of my business, but shouldn’t you be in debate prep instead of trying to explain yourself to me?

— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) January 16, 2012

And the Romney adviser shot back:

@davidaxelrod Haha! Believe it or not, the economy is an issue where we don’t prep Mitt, he preps us.

— Eric Fehrnstrom (@EricFehrn) January 16, 2012

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.


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