I-Team: Campaign Wars in 140 Characters - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Campaign Wars in 140 Characters

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LAS VEGAS -- We continue to be bombarded with ads for political candidates, and it's not going to stop for the next 70 days. But there is another war going on for hearts and minds out there and it's happening on your phone and on your computer. It's political Twitter.

Snarky, biting and in some cases, hilarious. Others call it childish and desperate. Either way, the Harry Reid and Sharron Angle campaigns are duking it out in bits and bytes online, going after each other in some surprisingly personal ways.

Every minute of every day, somebody is saying something about Angle and Reid. So leave it to the communications campaign team from both sides to duke it out digitally.

Like Reid's Jon Summers bashing Angle's recent hires of outside help -- "D.C. handlers" he calls them.

"We're making sure that people know that she's got a new set of handlers here in Nevada who aren't from Nevada," said Summers.

Well, Ciara Matthews, Jordan Gehrke and Jarrod Agen didn't like that, blasting Summers for his Twitter handle, JonSummersDC.

And went on from there. Summers called some local reporting "shoddy" and Agen hit back: "Are you going to cry every time there is a critical article? Grow up."

"But when they start crying on the world wide web about not having a puff piece for the first time then it kind of turns into, I guess, a Twitter war," said Matthews.

UNLV political science professor Ken Fernandez says this is a new world for campaigns. They take online potshots for all the world to see. He says it leads to a higher probability of mud slinging -- instant action and reaction.

"They feel more comfortable sort of putting out some stuff that may not be very professional," he said.

Like when Gerhke said Reid's communications team was acting like 13-year-old girls. Matthews says it's about defending your ground, but it isn't premeditated or coordinated, it just happens.

"Then as soon as the opposition starts reacting like children, that's when the organic part of it all comes together," she said.

Summers poked back, hammering about D.C. handlers, getting their goat, saying Angle's folks show what they don't know. "Information on what Senator Reid's doing and push back against some of the smear tactics of the news against him," he said.

The battle to win that news cycle tweet by tweet, mano a mousepad. Where what you say stays with you, and it can shape the campaign.

"It's just a webpage. It's not like I'm on CNN or on local news, then people are going to see it. But a lot of people see these things," said Fernandez.

Fernandez says political Twitter feeds aren't necessarily going to turn the tide of the election, but it can give you insight into how the campaign works and the personalities in play. But they are vicious defenders of their turf and their candidates. As one commentator put it, "When it comes to debates, Lincoln-Douglas this is not."

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