“Offensive and callous” were the surprising words used yesterday by the gay Republican organization, Log Cabin Republicans, to describe President Obama’s headline comments endorsing gay marriage. Distinctly underwhelmed by Obama’s change of heart, the organization immediately issued a statement claiming the President “does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.” Their reasoning? His comments followed North Carolina’s approval of an amendment to the state Constitution banning gay marriage. People were “mourning” the passing of the amendment and Obama’s timing they said, smacked of cynicism.
These sentiments were then reinforced by a similar organization, GOProud, which said, “This is hardly a profile in courage by President Obama.” Wanting to score a PR point, the statement went on to declare triumphantly that “President Obama has finally come around to the Dick Cheney position on marriage equality.” Meanwhile, GOP candidate Mitt Romney was not mentioned in either statement and nor was the party’s current policy position.
This was an odd and mistaken PR strategy. Why make PR mileage on a day which most campaigning peers would consider a step forward?
The PR Verdict: “D” for both organizations and their PR strategy on Obama’s big announcement. While having previously characterized this issue as one of personal choice, both organizations batted the issue straight back into the world of partisan politics.
PR Takeaway: Fighting back at every PR turn can quickly sound stale. Both responses belittled progress on an issue that each organization has been fighting for. Why not welcome the change and then, in the coming days, prod the President as to what he intends to do with his new found view? A clear case of misguided strategy and wrong timing.
What’s your PR Verdict?