Two days ago, Republican candidate Renee Ellmers wasn't on anyone's political radar. Then came Rep. Bob Etheridge's (D-N.C.) confrontation with two purported students on a street in downtown Washington, which was captured on video and spread across the Internet.
Etheridge's GOP rival is taking advantage of his Internet infamy to raise her profile and to do a little fund raising.
Late Tuesday, Ellmers's campaign posted a video on its website calling on Etheridge to apologize in person to the two men involved.
Ellmers campaign manager Al Lytton said the candidate has collected more than $25,000 in contributions in the last 24 hours and is looking to parlay that into some sort of momentum. "That's the hope behind this Web ad," said Lytton. "And we've seen a ton of new Facebook traffic, too."
The campaign is running ads on Facebook and is readying Google ads. It's using North Carolina-based online consultancy Majority Connections for its online outreach.
Republican media consultant David All said it's the sort of moment an agile campaign can turn into an online cash cow. All was one of the consultants who orchestrated Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-S.C.) online operations after the congressman's "You lie" moment last September.
"It's very rare that you get an opportunity like this to help build support from a national audience," he said. "A couple of million dollars can help change the viability of any candidate."
After Wilson shouted "You lie" at President Barack Obama during a joint session of Congress, both he and his Democratic opponent parlayed the attention into millions of fundraising dollars. Democrat Rob Miller actually redirected his website to Act Blue, the online Democratic fundraising portal the next day. Wilson quickly countered with an online fundraising effort of his own, eventually topping what Miller was able to raise in the weeks after the incident.
The Ellmers campaign is far from that sort of visibility. But it's surely the campaign's best chance to make some noise.