Did someone forget to send South Carolina Democrats the day’s strategic memo regarding gender politics?
Led by Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the party on Thursday was working hard in TV appearances and at other events to press a view of the GOP as out of touch with women, hyper-focused on cultural issues, and facing a significant gender gap.
But in the Palmetto State, Democrats seemed to be reading from a different page. Maybe the wrong book entirely. They were spending the day poking fun at their GOP governor, Nikki Haley, by likening her to overexposed Jersey Shore star Snooki, or a celebutante Kardashian sibling, and jabbing at her in a video on YouTube for traveling with Mitt Romney and pushing her new book on national media outlets.
“Why Can’t ‘National Nikki Haley’ just stay in South Carolina?” is the title of the video, complete with Carly Simon’s 1972 hit “You’re So Vain” playing in the background.
South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian said in a statement that the governor is more interested in promoting herself than she is promoting jobs for South Carolinians or helping to pass state tax reform.
“Only 18 months in office and she has already written her biography.... It used be that only people who accomplished something significant had biographies written, but in the age of Snooki and Kardashian celebrities it should be no surprise Nikki Haley draws some national curiosity.” He was referring to Haley’s new book, Can’t Is Not An Option.
Upon closer inspection, perhaps, such pop-cultural swipes at Haley are not a direct contradiction – or double-standard -- to the “gender gap” theme that other Democrats were seeking to concentrate on Thursday. That theme has emerged as a national strategy fueled in part by swing-state polls suggesting that Republicans and their leading presidential contender, Mitt Romney, may be falling significantly behind Democrats among female voters amid battles over contraception coverage.
Still, the timing of such dismissive depictions and demeaning attacks on Haley – not to mention dragging Snooki and the Kardashian women into it – seems odd, or at least incongruent, to the positioning being sought by Democrats elsewhere.
For example, Wasserman Schultz, a U.S. House member from Florida, insisted during an interview on Bloomberg Television’s Political Capital With Al Hunt, which begins airing Friday, “It's clear in this country that the jury of women across America have ruled, the Republicans have been unbelievably extreme and out of touch and hyper-focused on cultural issues.”
Wasserman Schultz added, “While we are supposed to be focusing, and should be, as President Obama has been, focused on getting the economy turned around and continuing to move us forward and create jobs, their side is obsessed with cultural issues.”
Meanwhile, it’s evident some top Republicans on Thursday are wrestling with how to best counter such attacks, or accepting that the so-called “gender gap” is anything but a media-conjured conflict.
“If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, who also appeared on Political Capital With Al Hunt.
“It’s a fiction,” said Priebus.