By Diana Falzone, ,
Published June 20, 2016
The race for President is being played out in part on social media, where a good meme can be worth a thousand shares. But so far, only presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump is playing the meme game.
Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s social media strategy is played close to the vest, with the campaign sharing articles directly from her website HillaryClinton.com. But Trump has had few issues sharing memes created by others. One meme creator who goes by the Twitter handle @Don_Vito_08 told FOX411 he’s the originator of three memes that have gone viral due to Trump retweets – including the Melania Trump/Heidi Cruz mashup that was the most talked about tweet in the GOP primaries.
@Don_Vito_08 (he wouldn’t give us his real name) told FOX411 in a telephone interview that he doesn’t work for the Trump campaign, nor has he ever met or spoke to the candidate. The meme creator said he’s a free agent who tweets (and retweets) in support of the business mogul “for the love of country.”
The Trump supporter boasts over 13,000 followers, and said Clinton’s social media team has been coming after him and others.
“They (Clinton’s camp) have these bots that target us (Trump supporters). They target us with nasty stuff like nasty pictures of Trump, saying nasty things,” he said. “The bots work on an algorithm and they time their tweets, messages so each looks different but comes from the same source.”
But @Don_Vito_08 does admit he has made mistakes, especially with a now-deleted viral meme that pictured an African American family that were not Trump supporters as the meme stated, but were instead lifted from a stock image.
“If I make a mistake I take responsibility. I’m not walking it back,” he said. “No one’s influencing me. I want to see this country turned around.”
However, not everyone agrees memes are a great tool to win a presidential election.
“Tweeting can be overused, misused and depending on the tweet can cause real trouble in interpretation,” said Bradley Blakeman a former member of President George W. Bush’s senior staff and now Professor of Public Policy, Politics and International Affairs at Georgetown University.
Blakeman also cautioned that tweeting without thinking could lead to losing the upcoming election.
“While Tweeting may have helped to get Trump the nomination it may prevent him from getting elected if he does it without rhyme or reason and it is driven by impulse or anger,” Blakeman said. “So far Trump has won the Twitter battle the question is will be win the Twitter war.”
Trump has retweeted memes with incorrect statistics like a picture giving “USA Crime Statistics” in 2015 that said “Whites Killed By Blacks” – 81%.” The FBI 2014 stats show the figure is less than 15 percent. When asked about the meme mistake, Trump said “Am I gonna check every statistic. All it was is a retweet.”
For D-Day, Trump retweeted a meme captioned “Remembering the fallen heroes on #DDay — June 6, 1944,” but the pic was from 1943. Although pointed out by some Twitter users and several members in the media as incorrect, the Trump campaign never owned up. That lack of acknowledgement won’t work against him according to Cornell University Professor Noliwe M. Rooks, due to Trump’s reputation for not being a fact-checker.
“Of all the things to worry about Trump getting wrong on a regular basis, incorrect memes are so far down the ladder that to worry about them amounts to little more than a distraction,” Rooks said.
But with the sacking of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski on Monday, could Trump’s meme sharing days be numbered? Blakeman doesn’t think so.
“Trump cannot resist, and his fans feed of it."
Trump does, however, have one closer advisor who wishes he would retweet less: his wife.
She said on FOX News' "Hannity" in April that her husband's re-tweets "get him in trouble."
"So I say 'Stay away from re-tweets,'" Melania Trump said, laughing.