Carly Fiorina sets new low for pandering: Roots against her alma mater in Rose Bowl

Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is a Stanford graduate.  As such, yesterday should have been a big day for her, since the Stanford Cardinals were playing the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl, one of College football’s biggest games.

However, given the upcoming Iowa Caucuses, Mrs. Fiorina switched loyalties:

The internet, of course, wasn’t having it:

This is a fail on so many levels.  First, as the responses showed, it’s just so blatant: The pandering is so, so clear.  Second, it is incredibly insulting.  Does Mrs. Fiorina – or her campaign – truly think that Iowa voters are so stupid that they can be manipulated into voting for someone, not based on their policy positions or experience, but because of their loyalty to a football team?  Third, it was so unforced.  It’s not as if the average Iowa voter was sitting down, thinking, “Gee, when is Mrs. Fiorina going to weigh in on who is going to win the Rose Bowl?  I simply must know her position before I cast my vote!”

Incidentally, Stanford obliterated Iowa, winning 45-16.  This, of course, spawned a new hashtag on Twitter: #CarlyCurse, in which fans blamed Iowa’s loss on Mrs. Fiorina.

Tweets and Consequences

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“Great win!” tweets Iowa Senator, whose team then loses

I’ve written previously about premature tweets in regards to sports wins, and it seems that we have a new entry into that category, this one courtesy of Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA).

Here’s what happened: This past Saturday, the Iowa Hawkeyes were battling the Michigan State in college football.  The winner of the game would become the Big Ten Conference champion, and with time running down, the Hawkeyes had the lead.  Senator Ernst then sent out this tweet:

JoniErnstHere’s the thing: The Hawkeyes hadn’t won yet.  And, in fact, they didn’t, as a touchdown by Michigan State in the final minute cost the Hawkeyes the game.


The congratulatory tweet was deleted and replaced with this:

While I understand why the errand tweet was explained as a “staff error,” I think this is a lousy thing to do.  Odds are that is exactly what happened, but that’s irrelevant.  I think a leader needs to take responsibility for anything tweeted under the name, and not throw some poor staffer under the bus – even if that is how it went down.

donald trump

Donald Trump uses Twitter to call Iowa voters brain-dead

Donald Trump isn’t shy, and he’s had a grand old time insulting pretty much every minority group under the sun.  In a pathetic commentary about humanity, this tactic has only caused his poll numbers to rise.  However, he’s yet to insult an entire state whose votes he needs, and the other day on Twitter, that is exactly what happened, when Trump retweeted the following:

Trump Iowa Tweet

By way of explanation: The latest polls have Dr. Ben Carson leading in Iowa.  So, Donald Trump retweeted this tweet, which pretty much implies that Iowa voters have brain damage.

Regardless, that tweet was deleted and replaced with this:

Gotta love the old “young intern” excuse – after all, Trump’s campaign has used it before.  It’s also a load of crap – there is no way that the current Republican front-runner allows an intern to have control over the Twitter account.  And, if they do, everyone involved should be fired.  This isn’t some campaign for Borough Council. Mr. Trump is currently the front runner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.  No one should have access to the Twitter account except professionals.

That being said, Trump’s campaign strategy is, of course, to be as controversial and provocative as possible.  Did his campaign actually decide that there is a limit to how insulting he can be, and that insulting voters directly is a bad call?

One additional note: This isn’t the first time a campaign has gotten into hot water for insulting Iowa or the Iowa caucuses.  A then-staffer for Wisconsin Governor Walker’s campaign, Liz Mair, took to Twitter to attack the status of the Iowa caucuses, and was promptly forced to resign.

At the rate we are going, I may have a new book out shortly, dedicated entirely to the stupid things that Donald Trump has said and done on Twitter.  Sigh.  Speaking of the book….

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

Not how you win swing voters: Democrats in Iowa county refer to former President Reagan as “white supremacist”

I’ve written in the past about county parties who stray far, far off message and post blatantly racist content, and here’s another entry in that field.

In Iowa, the Democratic Party of Black Hawk County made a pretty offensive Facebook post:

Black Hawk County Democrats Facebook posts that calls former President Reagan a white supremacist

Not good.  Not good!

The post has since been removed but made national headlines, with stories appearing on liberal websites like Talking Points Memo.

Iowa Republicans, naturally, found the post offensive and called for an apology.  In a statement, Scott Adkins, the Chair of the Black Hawk County GOP, called the post:

offensive and extremely disrespectful to the Reagan family…It’s unfortunate that our counterparts at the Democrat Party are now taking this type of derogatory attack to the grave of one of the greatest presidents in American history.

Shortly after the story went public, Black Hawk County Democrats did apologize, with Chairwoman Pat Sass saying:

On behalf of the Black Hawk County Democratic Party, I apologize for this unfortunate post. The Black Hawk County Democrats have long believed in equality and acceptance of all Iowans, and this unacceptable post by our volunteer social media coordinator does not live up to the values we have long held dear. We will be reviewing our social media process to ensure this does not happen again.

There is a lesson here for county parties and all elected officials who use others to make their posts: you have to have very clear guidelines about what type of content is and is not acceptable.  Clearly, this falls in the unacceptable range, and appropriate guidelines and training would have intercepted such a bad post.  At a minimum, such guidelines should prohibit derogatory and personal attacks against national leaders and describe what types of content are – and are not – acceptable.  

Husband of Senate candidate makes offensive Facebook comments and his wife is “appalled”

It’s rare when a candidate for office has to say that they are “appalled” by something that their spouse has done, but here we are.

Joni Ernst just won the Republican nomination for the Senate in Iowa.  Two recent polls show that Ernst has a slight lead over her Democratic opponent, Congressman Bruce Baley (D).  However, Ernst now finds herself enmeshed in a Facebook scandal, and one not even of her own doing: instead, she is being forced to attack her own husband’s Facebook comments.

As first noticed this past Monday by Buzzfeed, Joni’s husband, Gail, posted this to his Facebook page:

Gail Ernst

Clearly, calling a former First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State and Democratic front-runner for President a “hag” is not something anyone in the public life should ever do.

When the story first broke on Monday, a campaign spokesman said that Ernst disagreed with her husbands comments:

Like in all marriages, sometimes a husband and wife don’t agree.  In this case, Joni certainly doesn’t agree with the tone of his comments, and she has shared that with him privately. He knows how she feels about showing respect for others, and especially women.

Sensing blood in the water, Democratic operatives scoured Gail Ernst’s Facebook page and found even more offensive material, including jokes about shooting an ex and referring to former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, as a “traitorous skank.”  All of the offensive posts have since been deleted, and Ernst has since set his Facebook page to private.

The additional posts forced Joni Ernst herself to make a strident condemnation of her husband’s comments, resulting in a very rare public rebuke of a candidate’s spouse by the candidate:

I’m appalled by my husband’s remarks.   They are uncalled for and clearly inappropriate. I’ve addressed this issue with my husband, and that’s between us.

Gail Ernst also chimed in with an apology, saying in a statement, “I would like to apologize for the inappropriate comments I have made on Facebook, which I deeply regret. It is not the respect that women deserve or the example I want to set for my daughters.”

In the past, I’ve said that any candidate running for elected office needs to review their social media presence for any potentially offensive material.  However, when you hit a high enough level, that rule also applies to your spouse, particularly if there is content that is as patently offensive as the type that Gail Ernst displayed here.

What do you think?  Is this fair game?  Let me know in the comments!

Iowa GOP posts “Is someone a racist?” flowchart to Facebook

In an attempt to make fun of those who are too sensitive to political correctness, the Iowa GOP was forced into an apology over a Facebook post that seemed to trivialize racism.

On Friday night, this brilliant “Is someone a racist?” post appeared on the Iowa GOP’s Facebook page:

Iowa GOP FlowchartThe post appears to take a shot at those who accuse others of racism.  Of course, it makes no distinction between those who actually make claims of racism for their own advantage and those who make claims of racism because someone is actually being racist.  Given that the Republican party is in the middle of a rebranding effort and that it continues to struggle with its outreach to minorities and women, the timing of this post was pretty poor.  Really, the comment above by Alex Patch pretty much says it all – how on earth was a post like the above helpful in pushing the overall Republican message?

Clearly, someone at the Iowa GOP agreed, and the post was removed and replaced by this apology:

Iowa GOP Apology

About that apology: Chairman Spiker (by the way, great name) accurately described the posts as being in bad taste and inappropriate.  But then he apologized “to those whom were offended.”  This is a pet peeve of mine.  Don’t just apologize to those who were offended.  That’s a ridiculous qualifier designed to try to say “we’re really sorry, but to those of you who thought it was funny, well, we’re not REALLY sorry.”  When you screw up, be classy and apologize to everyone.

You’ll also note that Spiker makes a reference to the GOP having a contractor – in other words, a third party service that is running their Facebook page.  That’s not uncommon and perfectly reasonable.  However, it teaches a great point about what to do when a third party person is operating your Social Media.  Make sure that they have clear guidelines about content NOT to post.

Any thoughts to add?  Let us know in the comments!