When Mitt Romney joined some Bethel Park,Pennsylvania, residents around a picnic table on April 17, the conversation was supposed to be focus on rising gasoline prices, falling home value, and other economic anxieties that make up the central theme of his presidential campaign.
But after sitting down at a table covered with cookies, chip, and lemonade, Romney focused on the snacks.
“I’m not sure about these cookies,” he said, referring to a brightly colored plate of five dozen lady locks, thumbprints and other delicacies made by a beloved local bakery.
“They don’t look like you made them,” the candidate said. “No, no. They came from the local 7-11, bakery, or whatever.”
Locals took the remark as tasteless, quickly dubbing the slight as “Co0kie-gate.”
“When I heard it, I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. This guy has no idea how beloved this institution is that provided these cookies,’” bakery owner and president John Walsh told local ABC station WTAE. “We wanted him to be welcomed with the best in the burgh, and he had no idea.”
The shop quickly capitalized on the episode, offering a “CookieGate Special!” – a free half-dozen cookies with the purchase of a dozen cookies.
Democrats found the whole thing delicious. They crafted a new hashtag — #cookiegate, naturally — to tweet and retweet the remarks. And, of course, they quickly placed an order. The local Pennsylvania office of the Obama campaign bought a platter of five dozen cookies.
Romney, too, is getting his just desserts. Although he never tried the Bethel Bakery sweets, 7-Eleven plans to mail some cookies to his Boston campaign headquarters, in hopes of showing the Republican what he’s missing.