Major BBQ faux pas plagues Dem candidate for US Senate in North Carolina

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A Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate learned the hard way that the state of North Carolina takes their barbecuing seriously.

Cal Cunningham, who is challenging Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., in November, made a major faux pas when he equated grilling to barbecuing.


Cunningham tweeted a photo of himself Monday night standing in from of a gas-fired grill.

He added: “There’s nothing better than BBQ—except for winning this Senate seat, of course.”

To be clear, grilling is not barbecuing, as The News & Observer reported:

Grilling, beloved though it is in North Carolina, is not barbecue. One is searing over a hot flame until crispy and charred, the other is a low and slow lullaby, gently smoking pork while a sizzling symphony of fat drips on hot wood coals for hours and hours. You can love whole hog, you can love Lexington pork shoulders, but in North Carolina one can never confuse grilling and barbecue.


Speaking with the Raleigh newspaper, Cunningham said he would never call grilling barbecue — in effect, the Democrat said your lying eyes failed to realize he was just modeling a new campaign apron with “Ambassador for North Carolina BBQ” written on it.

“I’ve probably been eating Lexington barbecue since before I had teeth. Barbecue is a deep part of our culture,” he said. ” North Carolina barbecue is something I love very much.”

Republican state Rep. Steve Jarvis, who represents Lexington, called on Cunningham to apologize.

“I would like to remind Mr. Cunningham that BBQ in Lexington is cooked over coals from Hickory Wood and always involves pork,” he said in a statement.

Calling his tweet a scandal, the North Carolina GOP released a statement saying the Democrat is “out of touch” with voters.

“In North Carolina, we have Eastern BBQ and Western BBQ but neither involves a spatula, hot dog buns or gas grills,” NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley said in a press release, according to the News & Observer. “Cunningham is an elitist trial lawyer, and this BBQ gaffe demonstrates that he is out of touch with North Carolina voters who actually know what North Carolina BBQ is.”

Leave it to the paper to dig up an old tweet from Tillis that seemed to make a similar mistake.

Speaking of Tillis, like a good politician, he was quick to capitalize on his opponent’s troubles.

As for social media, well suffice it to say, Cunningham had his behind barbecued — or would that be grilled?

Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:

Heck, even the media blasted Cunningham, as seen in a tweet here from Associated Press reporter Meg Kinnard, a native of Memphis, Tenn.

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Tom Tillison


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