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#MemeOfTheWeek: Donald Trump's Taco Bowl

If Donald Trump tweets an image of a taco bowl in the heart of a Trump Tower, but no one else is there to eat it, does it make a meme?

Yes. The answer is yes.

Let's call it Taco-Bowl-Gate. Or Cinco de No-No. Or "Donald's Gonna Donald."

NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben has already given us the preliminary rundown. On Thursday, the likely Republican presidential nominee tweeted an image of himself with a taco bowl, which he said came from one of his restaurants. The caption read, "Happy #CincoDeMayo! The best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!"

There's a lot to unpack here. Taco bowls aren't really Mexican food. Also, the food in that bowl looked awful, stale, etc. The taco bowl sat on top of a magazine featuring a photo of Trump's ex-wife. Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican (and, actually, mostly American) holiday, not a "Hispanic" one. We could go on...

The Internet had a field day with this.

Some wondered what Trump tributes to other minority or ethnic groups might look like.

The bigger question is this: does Taco-Bowl-Gate mean that Donald Trump is the most tone-deaf man on the Internet, or actually an Internet genius?

Some have argued that this Trump tweet wasn't about Latino outreach at all. It was either meant to get attention (CHECK) or appeal to the white voters that make up a majority of his base. Either way, it kept us all talking about Trump. It gave his critics something else to deride, and his defenders something else to defend.

Of course, with all Trump social media events, the initial outburst is only as good as the responses. At a Politico Playbook breakfast Friday morning, RNC Chair Reince Priebus said of the tweet, "He's trying. Honestly, he's trying."

In a press briefing Friday, President Obama was asked about the tweet as well. "I have no thoughts on Mr. Trump's tweets," Obama said. "As a general rule, I don't pay attention to Mr. Trump's tweets. And I think that will be true for the next six months, so you can just file that one."

Trump himself responded to all the responses to his tweet Friday morning, in a phone interview on Fox News. "As of yesterday, I had 59,000 retweets ... That's almost got to be some kind of a record," he said. "People loved it."

Trump also said, "I'm going to do great with the Hispanics. I mean, I'm going to do fantastic because I'm bringing jobs back to America."

Whether Trump will do well with Latino voters remains to be seen (as of now, his unfavorables with that demographic group are sky-high). But if Trump needs some advice on how to make his Latino outreach seem a bit less tone-deaf, he might want to take some lessons from one of his failed GOP presidential competitors, Jeb Bush. Last Cinco de Mayo, Bush shared a video where he spoke in Spanish to praise the holiday and Mexican culture.

It seemed smart, thoughtful, and kind — three words few people have used in describing Trump's taco tweet.

We'll see if Trump changes up his Latino outreach strategy over the next six months. Yes, there's still six months until the general election.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sam worked at Vermont Public Radio from October 1978 to September 2017 in various capacities – almost always involving audio engineering. He excels at sound engineering for live performances.
Sam Sanders
Sam Sanders is a correspondent and host of It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders at NPR. In the show, Sanders engages with journalists, actors, musicians, and listeners to gain the kind of understanding about news and popular culture that can only be reached through conversation. The podcast releases two episodes each week: a "deep dive" interview on Tuesdays, as well as a Friday wrap of the week's news.

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