The race to create the catchiest new word in the 2012 presidential contest is on.

The two latest entries:

From Team Obama comes “Romney Hood,” coined by President Obama on Monday to describe, in Obama’s words, the “reverse Robin Hood” scenario in which Mitt Romney’s tax plan takes from the poor to give to the rich.

A protester dressed as Robin Hood holds a a sign at the Occupy Ottawa protest in Ottawa’s Confederation Park on Oct. 15 last year. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Patrick Doyle)

It sounds like all fun and games — or even just stupid campaign gimmicks — but clever turns of phrase can pay dividends on the campaign trail by crystallizing an issue.

Remember back during the primary debates when former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty criticized Romney for what he labeled “Obamneycare”? It was a great way to tie Romney’s health-care plan to Obama’s health-care plan, and the word lives on nearly a year after Pawlenty’s campaign ended. (In fact, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) even uttered it recently by mistake.)

Part of that is because Pawlenty’s campaign faltered after he stunningly failed to repeat the attack against Romney at a debate, lending the word significance it might otherwise not have had. But part of it is also because it was clever and reduced a complicated argument (that Romney’s and Obama’s health-care plans were basically the same thing) to one word.

That’s what Obama and Romney are trying to do with “Romney Hood” and “Obamaloney.” And either of them could catch on, depending on how they’re used.

Will they recast the race? No. But they aren’t harmless sideshows, either. Each campaign would love to have an “Obamneycare”-like word that really drives home their message — provided it’s not seen as frivolous.

What are some other words that have been coined by presidential campaigns? The comments section awaits . . .