I had the privilege of sharing my day with Dr. Carson and Donald Trump (sequentially) yesterday. There was such a marked difference in the way that I was treated by the two campaigns that I felt it was appropriate to do a compare and contrast post. A bit of a spoiler, Donald Trump came out on the losing end by a long shot. The words I wanted to use have been spinning around all day in my head. Finally, I have a chance to sit down and write it all out and the first headline that pops up on my computer is “ACLU Colorado board member [Loring Wirbel] resigns after encouraging shooting Trump supporters.” Almost unbelievable, I think to myself, and immediately check to see what site I am on. Oh, breitbart.com. Better double check that one! Hmmm, looks like he actually said that. I’m 99% certain it was a misguided joke (as Mr. Wirbel claims), but a person holding a prominent position needs to be careful what they say. Be informed, take a position and stand by it. Talk to your neighbors and advocate your point of view as strongly as you see fit. But don’t go around shooting them because they disagree with you! And be aware that if you hold a prominent position and make a joke like this it is quite possible that some loony tune somewhere will act on it.
According to the Daily Caller, The post read, “The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for Trump and say, ‘This is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before election day.’ They’re not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there’s always force, as Laurie would say.” Read more: Daily Caller
OK, with that out of the way, let’s look at how my day went (warning-snark ahead.) It started off at Honey Creek Resort, on Lake Rathburn near Moravia, Iowa. I arrived at the Carson event without credentials, but with tear sheets and an ID to establish I was legit. No problem, as long as my cameras and gear passed the Secret Service screen I was good to go. I was politely directed to the press area and took a seat. Ben Carson’s media person came up, introduced herself, and asked who I was with. I explained that I was a small indie and sold primarily through stock agencies. She lit up with a smile and said “Oh, I love entrepreneurs.” She continued to treat the press graciously throughout the event.
On to the next rally…I arrived at the Donald Trump press credentialing table and they did not have me on the credentialed list. I was asked to wait until the Grand Poohbah of Trumpeteer Media Relations (GPTMR) arrived. I waited, along with several other independents and reps of small papers who also didn’t make the cut. When the GPTMR arrived, I was asked who I was with and explained I am an approved independent contributor to several stock agencies and started listing them. One of those agencies is iStock/Getty. As soon as I named them, she challenged me with “Getty is here.” I clarified for the (apparently listening challenged) GPTMR that I never said I was on assignment with Getty nor that I was employed by them. I am an approved stock contributer. (Trust me, if I were ever selected to represent Getty, I would crow about it to the whole world!) Let me paraphrase the rest of the conversation:
GPTMR: You’re not media.
ME: It would have been nice if you decided that before *redacted name of campaign rep* sent me an email indicating I would have credentials and I spent an hour one way to drive here (plus gas.)
GPTMR: You couldn’t have gotten that email. I always get a copy.
At this point, it was obvious to me that I was in a no-win situation and at risk of drawing unwanted attention from law enforcement and possibly the Secret Service. Now, there are some SS men I wouldn’t mind getting attention from –but not the kind that ends up with me in front of a judge explaining myself!
I decided to skedaddle my non-media butt out of the Donald Trump credentialing queue before I got in trouble. It usually takes a lot to get under my skin, but my two hot buttons are my integrity and my professionalism. The GPTMR had just pushed them both in less than two minutes. As I was on my way out, another person who had failed to convince the GPTMR that he was legitimate press asked if the public were allowed to have cameras in the rally. Well, yes, said the GPTMR, but (pointing at MY gear) not cameras like that. I reminded myself that it would be a really bad idea to lose my temper with the GPTMR with all that Secret Service protection around, took a deep breath, and kept walking to the public entrance. I got into the event just fine without showing ID or being challenged on my “camera like that.” Got the shots (images-not literal shots-do NOT shoot the Trumpeteers!) I wanted, went home.
Why does any of this matter? Being commander in chief of this nation involves a lot of delegation. It is appropriate to look at how well candidates delegate responsibility to their campaign staff as we evaluate their potential as leaders. If they choose to be represented by staff that are disrespectful, why would we trust them to respect the US citizenry after they are elected? Had the Trump rep simply said something along the lines of: We cannot allow media in unless they are on the list due to security concerns; I would have no issue with that decision. Instead they took the position that I was not media and implied that I was lying about receiving email from the campaign, in front of several of my colleagues. The GPTMR was condescending and insulting. The Carson rep was gracious and welcoming. IMHO, that says something about the leaders of the campaigns.