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Political Gaffes Adding to the News Clutter

So the Mitt Romney team is trying to pull a Bieber. When his app’s epic fail became a trending topic on Twitter (spelling “America” “Amercia”), his team set up a promoted tweet so that everyone searching for the gaffe would see a tweet from @MittRomney stating, “.@BarackObama is spending your tax dollars to create jobs. How’s he doing? Solyndra isn’t even half the story mi.tt/Ko291P.” Trying to be all social media savvy.

Romney is the official GOP nominee, so now things are getting serious. Or maybe not, to the dismay of some. But really, they are. And the noise has gotten so loud that these sorts of gaffes become a very large speed bump in campaign progress.

Rather than focusing on moving forward, the Romney campaign had to spend the day doing damage control. Over something that was completely within the campaign’s control before it happened.

When there was a crowded field full of epic gaffers — Herman Cain, Rick Perry, etc. — a gaffe was one of many. So many that only the most egregious gaffes got a lot of attention. Romney & Co. has proven itself to be gaffe-prone — Etch-a-Sketch anyone? — which is something they’re going to have to keep a sharper eye on.

The Washington Post lays out two audiences for the political election: the media, strategists, and wonks who pay attention to political happenings big and small; and everyone else who is splitting their attention between the campaign, the latest Wes Anderson movie, going to the beach, global warming, an owl cat, and the new item on the Taco Bell menu. It’s these people, the bigger of the two groups, that the campaigns are concerned about. And it’s these people that become distracted by things like typos, birthers, discussion over what surrogates are saying, and the like.

Romney is getting some help from polls showing that his popularity is on the rise. (Obama’s numbers are pretty good too.) But just as with any campaign, the goal is to send a clear, error-free message that can somehow compete with all the other stuff that’s happening in the social media universe and beyond. The candidates are already competing with an overwhelming amount of news and information. They shouldn’t be contributing even more nonsense to the pot.

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