For the second time, JFK may have been the star of a vice presidential debate, and Twitter was all over it.
During tonight's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, the two got into a brief skirmish over former President Kennedy, leading Biden to say, disbelievingly to Ryan, "Now you're Jack Kennedy?" The line brought to mind then Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen's famous moment in his 1988 debate against Republican vice presidential nominee Dan Quayle, who had compared his level of experience to that of JFK prior to Kennedy becoming president. Bentsen's immediate reply: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."
Twitter responded vigorously, and that moment was the most tweeted of the entire debate, generating about 58,000 tweets a minute. All told, the debate generated about 3.5 million tweets, down substantially from the during last week's first showdown between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
Other top moments tonight included Ryan suggesting that the Obama administration "got their hand caught in the cookie jar" on Medicare (55,540 tweets per minute) and Biden's comments on the war in Afghanistan (54,944 tweets per minute).
Clearly, though, if judged just by activity on Twitter, Americans and the world paid a great deal less attention to tonight's debate than the first Obama/Romney skirmish. With this year's presidential election coming down to the wire with polling showing a very close race, it is expected that attention to the final two presidential debates will be significant. And Twitter may be one of the first places to get a real sense of the scale.