When it comes to politics and campaigning in the South, there are certain core basics that a candidate must know and lines that must never be crossed – no matter what side of the aisle they’re on.
One issue on which candidates must be able to display more than just a mere passing knowledge is on what barbecuing is and is not, what flavors there are (flavors are an especially HOT topic of discussion here in North Carolina at any given moment), and what the difference is between BBQing and grilling.
Anyone who thinks I’m kidding or overstating can ask any random political operative on Twitter who has done campaign work in the South – especially in the Carolinas – and they’ll confirm it.
In any event, Democrat Senate candidate Cal Cunningham “went there” on social media Monday with a photo he posted of himself in a freshly-ironed campaign-approved apron standing next to a grill and talking about how “there’s nothing better than BBQ”:
There's nothing better than BBQ—except for winning this Senate seat, of course. pic.twitter.com/oEsDXIZ5O2
— Cal Cunningham (@CalforNC) September 28, 2020
In something yours truly rarely – and I do mean rarely – ever sees happen in the highly adversarial world of North Carolina politics, Cunningham was roundly called out and mocked by political opponents, supporters, and even some in the local media (who probably fit in the “supporters” category) for the multiple egregious “BBQ” faux pas he made in the tweet:
Nothing says North Carolina like brioche buns… https://t.co/MyLmgLddu0
— Lanhee J. Chen (@lanheechen) September 29, 2020
For someone running in NC, this is pretty embarrassing. Gas grill. Shiny buns. Goofy Apron with "AMBASSADOR FOR NC BBQ" on it. This is a pretty epic fail. Next thing he'll say "lets play some Football!" and roll out a ⚽️ https://t.co/NoIniY38ku
— Bruce Haynes (@BruceHaynesDC) September 29, 2020
— Nathan Babcock (@NathanBabcock) September 29, 2020
The quote tweets and replies to this are phenomenal.
Cal’s been so cautious that most people in North Carolina have only seen him in well curated political ads.
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) September 29, 2020
I 👏 HAVE 👏 SO 👏 MANY 👏 QUESTIONS https://t.co/f3HhBScbuJ
— Brian Onorio (@brianonorio) September 29, 2020
Uh oh. Even the @AP political reporter from South Carolina, a state that loves mustard-base, realizes what a mistake @CalforNC made with his tweet. #scpol and #ncpol are united in calling out this travesty. 🐖 🇺🇲 https://t.co/Ums1Vnquq4
— Greg Gebhardt (@gregorygebhardt) September 29, 2020
— Jesse Hunt (@JJHunt10) September 29, 2020
— BBQuemonger (@The_EJWilder) September 29, 2020
The #GrillGate scandal gets deeper.
— Pete Kaliner (@PeteKaliner) September 29, 2020
— Nathan West (@NWestAVL) September 29, 2020
I'm guessing the last 'BBQ' Cal went to was a NY fundrasing dinner.
— Clark D. Riemer (@clarkriemer) September 29, 2020
Cal, you’re in North Carolina—not California or New York where your donors may be.
You’re grilling—not fixing up a whole hog bbq.
Talk about out of touch…
— Ken Farnaso (@KLF) September 29, 2020
You sir, are grilling hot dogs and hamburgers.
You are not slow cooking a whole hog over wood, which is, in fact, what BBQ is. Especially in NC, where you are running for a US Senate seat.
Are you okay? What possessed you to tweet this?!
— Brian M. Johnson MPA (@BrianJohnsonMPA) September 29, 2020
When a Democrat tries to tell you burgers & dogs are barbecue. pic.twitter.com/e7Gt0NNDgG
— spencer wilson (@swilsonpmcnc) September 29, 2020
BBQ, especially in NC, is a noun that means whole hog pulled or chopped pork cooked low and slow over wood. You sir, are grilling.
Take this down!
— HungryLobbyist.com (@HungryLobbyist) September 29, 2020
Haha a Cal Cunningham birther tweet 😂
— Diana Rugg is home with 3 kids😬 (@DianaRuggOnTV) September 29, 2020
I want you to win. What are you thinking? You’re holding a spatula, for god’s sake. Get it together, man, you’re from Lexington. I pray this isn’t your Dukakis-riding-in-a-tank moment.
— James Curle (@JamesCurle) September 29, 2020
Trust me when I say it might be if NC election history is a reliable indicator:
— Chris Miller (@ChrisMillerWFAE) September 29, 2020
— Colin Campbell (@RaleighReporter) September 29, 2020
Like I said earlier, knowing these things is a big deal here in NC. Or as Joe Biden would say, “a big f***in’ deal…”