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It took until this afternoon for the photo to gain traction online.
Tuesday morning, Tim Murtaugh, director of communications for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, tweeted photos of the Trump campaign leaving Iowa after the president’s victory in the Iowa GOP caucus. However, individuals online have started to critique Murtaugh’s group photo, specifically pointing out that Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, appears to be just one of a few people of color on the plane donning a “Keep Iowa Great” hat.
.@TeamTrump headed home after CRUSHING it in Iowa.— Tim Murtaugh - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TimMurtaugh) February 4, 2020
Record turnout for an incumbent president.
So much winning.
Didn’t have time to pay attention, so how’d it go for the Democrats?
Everything go off without a hitch? pic.twitter.com/gQsiyRQvry
New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher tweeted out the photo, saying, “There is a lot happening in this picture, but also only one thing happening.”
There is a lot happening in this picture, but also only one thing happening pic.twitter.com/Pn247J83LA— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) February 4, 2020
Former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) tweeted out the photo, saying, “One of these things is not like the others.” McCaskill then pointed out that Carson was seemingly the only person not seated for the picture.
One of these things is not like the others. Hint: they made him squat in the aisle so he was visible. pic.twitter.com/aFxrRRjbPi— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) February 4, 2020
Others online pointed out how the photo could be negatively interpreted, especially during Black History Month and on Rosa Parks’ birthday, due to Carson being Black and mostly surrounded by white Trump supporters.
Harriet Tubman ran, so Rosa could sit, so Ben Carson could.. ..Do whatever it is that he’s doing. It’s only the 4th day of Black History Month folks. pic.twitter.com/iILn3JlcRt— Christopher (@chriszhaw) February 4, 2020
Dear Ben Carson,— The Root (@TheRoot) February 4, 2020
Not sure you're aware, but Rosa Parks fought so that you could have your own seat.
Yours in #BlackHistoryMonth,
The Delegation of Blacks: https://t.co/zu5JO8QMzf pic.twitter.com/PLbCru8OvI
Donald Trump Jr. took aim at McCaskill’s remarks, citing “problems” with her tweet.
“1. Dr. Ben Carson did not have a seat in this pic because he was sitting in First Class with my family. 2. Dr. Carson is not a ‘thing,’ he is a world renowned, life-saving neurosurgeon,” he tweeted.
In case anyone was wondering where Ben Carson’s seat was on the Team Trump plane - just check First Class top left. Thanks for playing Claire. pic.twitter.com/HxyHKz7PHp— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 4, 2020
Black Trump supporters, such as Katrina Pierson, a senior advisor to the president’s reelection campaign, pointed out there were other Black individuals on the plane and called McCaskill a “closet racist.”
Only a closet racist would make such an incredibly stupid and non factual observation.— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) February 4, 2020
There were several “things” on that plane.
TWO OTHERS IN THAT ROW!
You’re trying too hard, but don’t worry...
You’ll see us soon in a town near you. https://t.co/N8kK0ZjybH
McCaskill responded to criticism by saying she was just “pointing out a lack of diversity.”
Ummm. Pretty sure pointing out a lack of diversity is not racist. Sorry Trump world.— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) February 4, 2020
On Tuesday morning Trump celebrated his victory in Iowa, taking a more explicit approach compared to the sarcasm Murtaugh used to mock the Democrats delayed results.
The Democrat Party in Iowa really messed up, but the Republican Party did not. I had the largest re-election vote in the history of that great state, by far, beating President Obama’s previous record by a lot. Also, 97% Plus of the vote! Thank you Iowa!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2020
Allyson Waller is an editorial intern at the Daily Dot and a senior journalism major at the University of Texas at Austin. She has written for student publications the Daily Texan and ORANGE magazine. Her work has also appeared in the Texas Tribune and the Miami Herald.