Almost immediately after former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced she was running for president last week, her staff was dogged by questions about why they had failed to secure the Web domain carlyfiorina.org, which had been purchased by a Democratic activist who used it to post a message about how many people HP had allegedly laid off while Fiorina was the company's chief executive.
As Fiorina made the media rounds over the next week, she responded to questions from the media about the domain gaffe with a sense of humor -- and with a few tricks up her sleeve. During a Wednesday appearance on "Late Night With Seth Meyers," Meyers asked Fiorina about the domain, and Fiorina responded by asking Meyers, “Do you know who owns SethMeyers.org?... I do. I just bought it in the green room!” That domain now redirects to Fiorina's campaign website.
On Sunday morning, she appeared on “Meet The Press” with Chuck Todd, and shortly after the show, she revealed on Twitter that her team had also purchased chucktodd.org -- which also now redirects to Fiorina's website.
And late on Sunday, reporters began to notice that HillaryClinton.net now redirects to CarlyForPresident.com as well. It might be easy to assume that this was another work of mischief by the Fiorina campaign -- but a spokeswoman for Fiorina confirmed to msnbc that, in fact, the Fiorina campaign did not buy the domain. It's unclear who owns it and when it began redirecting visitors to Fiorina's website.
“Many reporters were nearly giddy about what I've affectionately labeled #domaingate when it came to Republicans, but none had bothered to check hillaryclinton.net or hillaryforpresident.com. I'm now looking forward to all the stories similarly labeling this a major gaffe by the Clinton campaign,” Fiorina spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in an email.
Domain gaffes have started to become a regular occurrence on the campaign trail in this still-nascent presidential contest. First, when Ted Cruz announced he was running for president in March, reporters pointed out that his team had not been able to purchase TedCruz.com, which had been owned for several years by another Ted Cruz, and which displayed a pro-President Obama message. Rand Paul's campaign reportedly spent $100,000 securing the rights to RandPaul.com. Now, Hillary Clinton has her own gaffe on her hands with HillaryClinton.net and HillaryForPresident.com, which redirects to theamerican.net, the personal website of a conservative activist.
Clinton's missed domains also seem additionally noteworthy given that the Clinton team has staffed up with many of the top tech talent that worked on Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
Future candidates, take note: it would be wise to take the time to buy up every permutation of your name on the Web -- or risk letting it fall into someone else's hands.