Longtime readers may recall that the Republican National Committee relied on an interesting online strategy in the 2008 presidential campaign. I noted on Oct. 29, 2008, that the RNC’s official home page featured Barack Obama’s name six times. John McCain’s name, however, wasn’t mentioned at all. The presidential election was a week away at the time.
A day earlier, Mother Jones noted that the only references it could find to McCain on the RNC’s website was “a link to McCain’s campaign store,” and an out-of-date volunteer opportunity at a McCain event that had passed three days earlier. The RNC was eager to spotlight the Democratic candidate, but not its own.
It’s funny how history sometimes repeats itself.
Rachel noted a week ago how weird it is that the RNC’s homepage, a month after the party named Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee, included literally zero references to Trump’s candidacy. This week, TPM’s Josh Marshall noted the same thing.
There does not seem to be any mention of Donald Trump on the official Republican Party website, gop.com. Hillary is there. Bernie is there. George H.W.Bush is there. Reagan is there. Reagan/Bush. Lincoln is there. No Trump anywhere. Not on the blog, signups. Not anywhere that I could find.
I checked again this morning, assuming this oversight would be quickly fixed, if only to avoid embarrassment, but there’s still nothing. I found this “Take Back The White House” page in which the RNC touts “our presidential candidates” – as if there were still several Republican contenders – but literally no references to Donald Trump specifically.
The RNC’s homepage has two pictures of Hillary Clinton, but zero of Trump. Click on the “View All Articles” link for the latest RNC blog posts and press releases, and you’ll find plenty of content, but of the top 20 items, 19 attacked Hillary Clinton, while one attacked President Obama.
Here, too, there wasn’t a single Trump mention.
If you didn’t know anything about politics and you stumbled onto the RNC’s site, you might think the election were some kind of referendum on whether or not Clinton deserves support, rather than a choice between competing candidates.
In fairness, if you stop by the Democratic National Committee’s website, you’ll find a combination of Trump criticisms and praise for President Obama, but no references to Hillary Clinton. But let’s not lose sight of the context: while the race for the Democratic nomination may be effectively over, it’s not literally over, and the DNC wants to remain neutral between the remaining candidates. There’s no content related to Clinton on the DNC’s homepage, but there’s no content related to Bernie Sanders, either.
In other words, this isn’t yet an apples-to-apples comparison between the parties, and I’d bet good money that a month after Clinton becomes the presumptive Democratic nominee the DNC’s site will be promoting her candidacy pretty heavily, even while criticizing her rival.
So, what’s the RNC’s excuse for keeping their candidate under a bushel? Are Republican officials embarrassed by their presidential hopeful?