Controlling these pseudo-messengers is harder than meets the eye, especially because their comments often draw nods of recognition or even a “Hell, yes!” from a candidate’s base. Push back too hard from campaign headquarters and risk alienating fans. Stay silent or offer a mild tsk-tsk, and your opponent will spend days highlighting the off-key remarks.

That dynamic means Boston and Chicago have to decide faster than ever this cycle which of these faux surrogates to embrace, which to cast aside, and which to ignore altogether. In the most prominent examples, Obama’s team chose to quickly turn its back on Rosen for telling CNN last week that Ann Romney “had never worked a day in her life;” while Mitt Romney ultimately condemned Nugent for his incendiary comments that Obama and his aides were “vile” and “evil” “criminals.”…

Kristol said it’s not just the media and the faux media (in the form of Twitter users) who are cranking up the hype. There’s a powerful symbiosis with the modern campaign media machine, which is looking to drive a one-day message or obscure the lack of a long-term one.

In the case of Nugent, Democrats used his rhetoric to move past their own issues from last week and paint Romneyland as hypocritical for standing silent when it came to one of its own backers. The campaign’s eventual condemnation of Nugent’s language late Tuesday was, on some level, an acknowledgement that the ante has been upped in claiming ownership of these pseudo-messengers.