Today, Sen. Rand Paul announced his presidential run, laying out a platform that challenges his party's dogma on several key issues. Paul's effort to change the GOP is fascinating — he's starting a party civil war on foreign policy and unabashedly advocating criminal justice reform, while pushing even further to the right on spending.
Yet the favorite conversation topic among Washington's chattering class on day one of Paul's campaign didn't involve his ideas. Instead, it focused on a series of errors on Paul's website that reveal nothing whatsoever about the policies underpinning his campaign or its future prospects.
1) He used stock photos of foreigners
The day began with the campaign being dinged for unpatriotic use of stock photos. Paul's new campaign website had a page calling for endorsements, and its accompanying map image featured some small thumbnail photos of people.
But BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski discovered that those small thumbnails were apparently of Europeans, taken by a photographer based in Germany. Gotcha! Paul's team soon removed the photos, because only American stock photos are good enough for American presidential candidates, or something.
2) He spelled the word "education" wrong
The day continued with a typo. Reporters quickly noticed that on Paul's issue page for "Education," the word was once spelled "Eductation." Gotcha! The press had a good laugh, and the page was quickly corrected.
3) He posted an image reading "Jew for Rand"
Finally, a page with identity-themed images that Paul supporters were supposed to post on their social media accounts contains one image with the words "Jew for Rand." Now, it definitely does seem that "Jewish" or "Jewish-American" would have been a much better word choice here. But with "Catholic for Rand" and "Christian for Rand" showing up, it seems the religion-themed images were formatted similarly by a staffer who didn't think too much about it. (The image has now been changed to "Jewish for Rand.")
The media takeaway from these three insignificant errors has been that Rand Paul's campaign staff is unprofessional and not ready for prime time. But my main takeaway from the coverage is that the media industry is hungry for clicks, and easy gotchas like this are a great way to deliver them. And also that it's going to be a long campaign season.