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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.”
There’s nothing better than BBQ—except for winning this Senate seat, of course. pic.twitter.com/oEsDXIZ5O2
— Cal Cunningham (@CalforNC) September 28, 2020
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.
— Senator Steve Jarvis (@SteveJarvisNC) September 29, 2020
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.
— Thom Tillis (@ThomTillis) February 12, 2014
Speaking of Tillis, like a good politician, he was quick to capitalize on his opponent’s troubles.
— Thom Tillis (@ThomTillis) September 29, 2020
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:
Folks just don’t understand— we take our barbecue very seriously here in NC, whether it’s eastern NC style or western NC style, it DOES always involve pork. There’s just no two ways about it — beyond the style of sauce (eastern vs. western). Thank you for calling him out!
— Sara ❤️🇺🇸 (@brightislandusa) September 29, 2020
Eastern vs. Western BBQ debates have separated families in NC.
— ErnstBlofeld (@ErnstBlofeld) September 29, 2020
I’m from NY originally and apparently I know much more about BBQ than you do. Hamburgers & hot dogs? A propane grill? Where’s the ribs, the pork shoulder, the brisket, the chicken? Where’s the smoker?
— 🇺🇸#IAmTheNRA Rosenblum (@StevenRosenblum) September 29, 2020
He’s grilling over gas? Is there time to get my absentee ballot back?
— Kathleen Purvis (@kathleenpurvis) September 29, 2020
You sir, are grilling hot dogs and hamburgers.
You are not slow cooking a whole hog over wood, which is, in fact, what BBQ is. Especially in NC, where you are running for a US Senate seat.
Are you okay? What possessed you to tweet this?!
— Brian M. Johnson MPA (@BrianJohnsonMPA) September 29, 2020
My dude, folks are not going to think you really have a whole hog on that tiny grill. And I know you are not referring to cooking hotdogs & burgers as “BBQ.”
It may behoove you to issue a statement on NC barbecue forthwith. You can thank me later.
— Aylett “What’s your voting plan?” Colston (@EveryVoiceNC) September 29, 2020
This guy too pic.twitter.com/aZNMxqAm3Z
— Claire Mahoney (@TaggertGirl) September 29, 2020
Heck, even the media blasted Cunningham, as seen in a tweet here from Associated Press reporter Meg Kinnard, a native of Memphis, Tenn.
— Meg Kinnard (@MegKinnardAP) September 29, 2020
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