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.