Cal Cunningham is never coming back from this
Candidates make mistakes during elections. It happens. They misspeak. They misremember. It happens. Sometimes those mistakes are forgivable.
Some mistakes are not, as Democratic U.S Senate candidate Cal Cunningham has learned.
Cunningham’s campaign tweeted this.
This is unforgivable. Even more so in North Carolina.
Cunningham is wearing an apron that reads “Ambassador for North Carolina BBQ” with a Cunningham for Senate logo on it.
Sadly, despite his apron and his tweet proclaiming this as such, this a’int “BBQ”.
Barbecue “refers to a technique of cooking meat outdoors over a fire; often this is called pit barbecue, and the facility for cooking it is the barbecue pit. This form of cooking adds a distinctive smoky taste to the meat….”
So let’s take a look at what’s happening here.
Cunningham is standing next to a gas grill. There is no acceptable form of barbecue that cooks over a gas grill. Charcoal? Yes. Wood? Yes? A smoker? yes. Gas? Never.
Cunningham is holding a flat metal spatula type object. Something that is rarely, if ever, used for barbecue. It implies the presence of “not barbecue” in the grill. Which…..
….is confirmed by the presence of hamburger buns and hot dog buns on the plate immediately next to the grill.
Cunningham’s having a cookout. Which is fine. Cookouts are fine. But none dare call it barbecue in neutral territories. This is an act of war in a barbecue state such as North Carolina.
In case you missed it, barbecue is a big deal in North Carolina. It doesn’t get the press that Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas gets, but barbecue culture in North Carolina is huge. There are even different styles of barbecue within North Carolina; the state is often divided between Eastern-style and Western-style.
If you don’t understand the kind of faux pas this is, I take you back to this.
If Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential aspirations melt like a dollop of Cheez Whiz in the sun, the trouble may well be traced to an incident in South Philadelphia on Monday.
There, the Massachusetts Democrat went to Pat's Steaks and ordered a cheesesteak -- with Swiss cheese. If that weren't bad enough, the candidate asked photographers not to take his picture while he ate the sandwich; shutters clicked anyway, and Kerry was caught nibbling daintily at his sandwich -- another serious faux pas.
"It will doom his candidacy in Philadelphia," predicted Craig LaBan, food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which broke the Sandwich Scandal. After all, Philly cheesesteaks come with Cheez Whiz, or occasionally American or provolone. But Swiss cheese? "In Philadelphia, that's an alternative lifestyle," LaBan explained.
I mean, this was a national news story. Except it’s actually worse for Cunningham that it is for Kerry. John Kerry was a patrician United States Senator from Massachusetts coming to blue-collar Philadelphia trying to blend in. Cunningham is a native North Carolinian who actually served in the North Carolina State Senate who should damn well know better.
Does this kind of thing hurt a campaign? Yes, sometimes at the margins. And when you’re Cunningham and your current lead over the incumbent U.S. Senator is tenuous, the margins can make all of the difference in the world.
Friends don’t let friends call grilling barbecue.