“They tell me I’m not tweeting enough,” Dennis says with a raised brow, nodding toward Adam Ross, his campaign manager.
At the King campaign headquarters today, I find myself in a front row seat to an ‘exchange of opinions’ between the two about social media and Dennis’s online image.
“I’m willing to admit I’m not always right on these things,” Dennis says, “but I didn’t like that one.”
He’s referring to a meme posted on his campaign’s Facebook page in which a quote, pulled from an editorial in The Guardian, highlights Dennis’s likability and sense of humour – and Premier MacLauchlan’s lack of the same.
Dennis is displeased. He thinks the post should be deleted, despite it receiving over 100 likes and getting shared by almost 30 Facebook users.
“In my world, if you take something down off social media, you’re admitting you’re wrong. And I don’t think we were wrong,” Adam says. “I do think we were off-message. You were right about that.”
“And when you make mistakes, you own up to them,” Dennis says, leaning back in his chair, looking satisfied with Adam’s concession. “You admit you were wrong.”
I ask Dennis what he didn’t like about the post.
It made him feel like he was using the Premier’s personality traits as a weakness in an attempt to strengthen or bolster his own, he says.
“I’m trying to run a campaign on not doing that.”
It’s not the job of the premier to be likable and funny, he says.
“It’s the job of the premier to do a good job. That’s what we need to be promoting. I need to be proving I can make tough decisions. That’s what I have to show. Everyone already knows I’m likable and funny.”
Dennis wants to ensure he stays aligned with the principles that prompted him to enter the leadership race, the values he’s hoping to bring to P.E.I.’s political arena.
What he doesn’t want is a boxing match of personal punches being thrown inside that arena.
We sometimes forget what we’re trying to do – where we’re coming from and where we want to go, he says.
“We wanted to do this differently. We didn’t want to run the standard campaign that we always ran. We wanted to do this with positivity and with civility.”
We wanted to show a trajectory of growth, he says. We wanted to take the meanness out of this.
“In this situation, I think we lost some of our focus.”
Dennis wants the focus to be about what Islanders want, what they need in a leader.
I want to show people I’m not just Dennis King, the funny guy you can trust, he says.
“I want to be Dennis King, who can make the tough decisions.”
I ask him the same question I posed to him in September.
“So, can you be the bad guy?”
That’s what I have to prove, he says.
“That’s what I have to show.”
If you look on Dennis’s campaign Facebook page today, the meme is gone.
It appears as though Denny won this particular round.
Perhaps Dennis King is ready to be a bad guy.
But not a mean one.