Carly Fiorina’s Demon Sheep: Day 2

Well, the somewhat unorthodox Web video that U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina launched yesterday to poke holes in rival Tom Campbell’s fiscal-conservatism bona fides has moved fully into the realm of the age-old question, “Are they laughing with her, or are they laughing at her?”

If it was all about attention-getting, then: mission accomplished. It’s getting national exposure through outlets including the New York Times, CBS News, ABC News, Politico, Wonkette and countless others.

But whether that coverage is more about Fiorina’s message (Campbell’s fiscal history) or the medium (a dude in a sheep suit with glowing red eyes)… well, read ‘em and see.

Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund says it’s all good. “Good morning to ewe (sorry, couldn’t resist),” she greeted reporters in an e-mail this morning. “If you didn’t get enough of the demon sheep yesterday, good news, you can buy your very own t-shirt to remember it all by. Check it out here: http://www.cafepress.com/exlg/7055772. Watch out Michael Stars, these are going to be all the rage – and for the low price of $15.99. (note: the campaign has nothing to do with the shirts being created…but we sure are amused by them!)”

“The bottom line is that the facts in the ad are true and the more people who see it (and a lot of people have seen it), no matter their reaction to the wolf in sheep’s clothing (otherwise known as the Demon Sheep – hat tip to Team Campbell again), the more voters will learn that Taxin’ Tom Campbell is a fiscal conservative in name only.”

But a third U.S. Senate candidate, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, snapped into action yesterday by launching his own site, www.demonsheep.org, ostensibly maintained by the SFTEODSFOPD – the Society for the Eradication of Demon Sheep from our Political Discourse.”

And this morning, DeVore spokesman Joshua Trevino is shopping around a story about who greenlit the ad, mocking the Fiorina campaign’s stance that so long as people are talking about the ad in any context, it’s all good.

“This line requires one to believe that the Fiorina campaign deliberately weighed the negatives (expenditure of c.$20,000, swift use by both rival campaigns, global mockery) against the positives (attention) and decided the latter outweighed the former,” Trevino wrote. “Suffice it to say that, first, they didn’t — and second, this is a crisis-communications strategy perfected back in 1985, viz.:”

Trevino then traces some Fiorina campaign staffing history to impute that Fiorina herself might’ve seen and approved the ad before its release. Personally, I’d like to think that candidates see and approve all their ads before they’re released; I’d think it more newsworthy if she hadn’t seen it than if she had.

Assuming any of this is newsworthy in the first place.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.