Another day on the campaign trail, another instance of forced Democrat outrage. This one centered on a stop by Rand Paul in New Hampshire where he was accepting the endorsement of some state party leaders. But the featured entertainment this day wasn’t coming from the candidate. One of his staffers was attempting to block the camera of an oppo tracker and decided to get up close and personal.
A Democratic tracker got a licking Monday while attending a Rand Paul campaign event in New Hampshire.
A campaign staffer for the Republican presidential candidate licked the camera lens of a tracker from the Democratic opposition research super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, while recording the event. And the tracker caught it all on tape
The Democrats were immediately outraged by this outrageous act of outrageousness.
[T]he group’s communications director, Ben Ray, said he’s ever seen anything like this before.
“No. No, I have not,” Ray told ABC News, noting that it’s a common practice for staffers to try to block trackers’ cameras with their bodies — but not to go this far.
I prepare our trackers for a lot of things. I do not prepare them for being licked by Rand Paul’s operatives: https://t.co/4YejNPoEQ1
— Rebecca Parks (@BeckyRParks) May 11, 2015
I suppose there’s no avoiding it, so here’s the video from American Bridge 21st Century’s YouTube channel. (It’s mercifully short.)
Obviously there isn’t much to this story except for providing an interesting peek behind the curtain for those who have never been involved in the gritty, day to day grind of a political campaign. The practice of having trackers follow around your opponents is nothing new, and it’s only gotten more common with the advent of personal cell phone cameras. During the congressional campaign I worked on during the 2010 cycle we picked up a tracker as soon as the poll numbers tightened enough that we presented an actual threat. I was never entirely sure if the guy they hired was a direct employee of the incumbent Democrat’s campaign or if he was working for the county party. It didn’t really matter at the time.
More to the point, we never saw a reason for things to get unpleasant. (After all, we were doing the same thing to them.) We were at an event outside of the federal courthouse in the largest city in our district when I first noticed the guy holding a small video camera and standing around with the rest of the local reporters. I asked which outlet he was with (in case he needed an interview or something) and he made no bones about it. He told me straight up that he was a tracker and would be traveling with us from then on. I spoke to our candidate about it and we all decided he seemed like a perfectly fine, polite fellow who was just doing his job and we pretty much treated him the same as everyone else in the traveling circus which makes up an active campaign.
In a strange way, we almost became friends. We would pick up coffee for early events to distribute to our volunteers and I got in the habit of getting one for our tracker. One morning he showed up with donuts for everyone. It was all very sociable. Yes, he was there to film every public moment of the candidate and look for some slip-up that they could use, but I was already expecting the local media to do exactly that anyway so it wasn’t as if this was anything new.
Some of the campaigns get a bit more combative and it looks like that’s the route that Rand Paul’s team is taking. And just to be clear, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. (We’re not playing softball here, after all.) But Rand’s guys may want to dial it down a notch. Licking the tracker’s camera is a tad bit beyond “combative” and only opens up your candidate to some minor backlash among the bored reporters who are following the train.