Thursday, October 15, 2015

Geek Gaffes Mar #RandLive

Rand Paul on Livestream

One of the most precipitous declines in the race for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination has been Senator Rand Paul (R-KY).  Last year, the libertarian leaning Senator Paul was considered to be a top contender.  But Paul’s campaign has faded to the point of where he may not have the 2.5% support to qualify for the big stage for the third GOP debate required by CNBC.

Senator Paul wanted to do something different to attract attention, generate enthusiasm among young voters and distinguish himself.  So the Paul campaign arranged for the candidate to LiveStream a day in the life.  This was a thrifty way to shine a spotlight on the candidate, leverage new media to political advantage and reinforce his brand of being a different kind of Republican.

Well, timing is everything. Tuesday October 13th was the date chosen for #RandLive.  From the superstitious side of things, the Spanish consider Martes el trece to be a day of bad luck (akin to America’s Friday the 13th).  On the more calculating side, that was the day of the first Democrat Debate so Rand was scheduling a stunt that would not draw a whole lot of attention.

Perhaps it was lucky that #RandLive did not get much time in the spotlight.  Senator Paul was scheduled to visit five college campus events in Iowa that day.  But technical difficulties interfered with much of the livestreaming, so diehard Rand-ians were left staring at a test pattern for much of the day.  These cyber glitches were unfortunate but not unforgivable as it is challenging to introduce new technology into the field of national political campaigns.

What was more egregious was Senator Paul’s unscripted answers to Google questions.  The third most popular question was “Are you still campaigning Senator Paul?”.  The freshman Senator from Kentucky gave a sarcastic and supercilious unscripted answer.

So much for appealing to the youth vote when you denounce the platform itself.  Moreover, calling it “dumbassed” shows that it was a feign and not really reflecting the candidate’s true disposition.

Other hopefuls used social media on that day to varying effects.  Both former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and Donald Trump live-tweeted during the Democrat Debate.  It looked like “the Huckster” slinged up cornpone and canned ham in his replies, while “the Donald” delivered authentic raw meat which underlined his attributes.

While it is questionable if hyping a “Truman Show” for a candidate is wise, it does show innovation.  But if you are on camera 24/7, one slight slip up can ruin years of work. In the film “The Truman Show” (1998), people found that they liked watching Truman because he was natural and likable.   Senator Paul has developed a reputation for being prickly in uncomfortable interviews.  It is telling that Senator Paul noted that you can’t edit that out when it’s being livestreamed.

The tag line from The Truman Show was “How's It Going to End?”.  This may well be the same question that staffers for Rand Paul’s Presidential campaign may be asking.   

Perhaps Senator Paul can take a cue from Truman Burbank. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Contrasting Social Media Counterprogramming Strategies for the Democrat Debate

The Democrats held their first Primary "Debate" (more of a candidate forum) at a Las Vegas casino. Most political pundits expected a snoozefest which lays a foundation to a Primary Coronation.

So that Republicans did not totally cede the news cycle to a progressive politics lovefest, a couple of Republican aspirants to the Oval Office took to Twitter to counter-program by chiming in on the process. It was a cheap way to gain attention and get the message out, going over the heads of the established media through the new media.

Donald Trump made headlines with his announcement that he would live tweet the event.  Former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) also wanted to get in on the action.  The latter leader's sharing seems to epitomize his campaign thus far--  cornpone slung just to win attention.

Take some of the @GovMikeHuckabee tweets--

They seemed like stale standbys to get some yucks. But unlike Huckabee's two debate performances when he dished out canned ham, it seems that the self nicknamed "Duck Hunter" did actually seem to watch the Democrat Debate.

That being said, Huckabee tried to be funny rather than to score points with his big campaign themes. 

In contrast, Donald Trump tried to steal the spotlight by starting with his star-appeal schtick thru @realDonaldTrump tweets--

Trump used social media to leverage his message by retweeting others who echoed or enhanced his memes and campaign messaging, whereas Huckabee basically used Twitter as a platform to share his pre-scripted one liners.

However, it looked like Donald Trump was genuinely reacting to the debate.  His social media responses reinforced his campaign messages on immigration, Washington is broken, helping Veterans and Hillary's hypocrisy.

One indication that Trump was not totally rehearsed in his responses is a short missive "Good move by Bernie S." that has no reference point, hash tags or even Twitter handles.  Presumably, this was when Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) said: "Enough with the emails already!".

On the one hand, Trump generated excitement with his social media participation in the Democrat Debates with authenticity, branding and passively marketing his message. On the other hand, Huckabee served up more cornpone which were groaners to political pundits but did little to advance his own message via social media.

With the revised qualifications for the CNBC debate, this might be one of the last servings of cornpone and canned ham from the Huckster.