What do you do when your candidate is polling in the low, single digits percent? Publish an app that lets voters take selfies with the candidate because obviously that’s the ticket to bumping up public support.
Rand Paul’s candidacy, initially billed as a buoyant entry injecting fresh ideas in a quasi-sleepy, pre-Trump field, has now been called all but dead.
It’s been a summertime of sadness for the blue-eyed boy from Kentucky.
As the vultures have circled ever closer, even Paul said his chances of winning the nomination are now “one in ten.”
Earlier this week, Paul had to go all the way into the Alaskan wilderness to find people not overcome by Trump mania. The final piece to his rehabilitation strategy seems to be the app “RandPaul2016.”
Paul’s campaign has been feverishly promoting the app that launched in the Apple Store on Wednesday. It allows users to take selfies next to the floating, seemingly severed head of the Kentucky senator.
The official Twitter account for the candidate tweeted four times in three hours including an instructional video for actually downloading the scintillating new product. Hours later after the campaign encouraged users to send selfies with the hashtag #selfieswithrand, people promptly responded with a barrage of images of their genitalia. One of the first things that shows up on screen in the app is an option to donate to the campaign and if the user allows for location tracking, the application will send notifications about upcoming events in the area. There is also an option to make memes and share them with the massive Rand Paul meme-sharing community.
Paul is no stranger to digital campaign strategies, having employed SnapChat since early 2014 to talk to constituents and reporters alike. He employs Vincent Harris as his chief digital strategist, who also runs Harris Media, a digital public affairs firm headquartered in Austin. Harris said in an email exchange with The Daily Beast that the app was by no means released right now to try to bring attention back to Paul’s campaign in its drastic time of need but, in fact, was in the works over the last six months.
“Senator Paul has continuously led the Republican field, and largely both sides of the aisle in his use of digital engagement,” Harris said. “This is just another example of his campaign doing that.”
Rand Paul’s Twitter account has been retweeting images from users who include the hashtag #StandWithRand, which is supposed to serve as a means of promoting the candidate’s message. Not really sure what message this conveys.
“We’re already seeing it being used as a tool to promote the Senators brand and message,” Harris said. “This is in contrast for other apps where some candidates have focused on them specifically as a place to essentially store press releases.”
According to Harris, there are no financial figures available as to how much money has been contributed to the campaign through the app yet.
The website CanDo.com, a Cincinnati-based company which has also made an app for Tide Dry Cleaners, is listed as the URL in the app store associated with “RandPaul2016.” They have not returned a request for comment from the Daily Beast.
There is no precedent for knowing whether selfies with a candidate improve poll numbers. But maybe the hidden “Space Invaders”-esque game within the app will do the trick.