Gillibrand becomes latest candidate scrutinized for how she eats on campaign trail

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day Gillibrand uses Trump Jr. tweet to fundraise Meghan McCain: 'Don't underestimate' Bernie Sanders MORE (D-N.Y.), who is exploring a run for president, this weekend became the latest candidate to draw scrutiny for how she eats food on the campaign trail.

In this instance the litmus test was posed by plate of fried chicken during a weekend campaign stop in South Carolina.

She made a Saturday visit to Kiki’s Chicken and Waffles to meet with a small business roundtable of about 20 African American leaders, according to CNN’s Jasmine Wright, who chronicled the episode.

When the plate of chicken came, Gillibrand started eating it with a fork before pausing and noticing that her tablemates were eating less formally.

“Um Kiki, do we use our fingers or forks for the chicken?” she asked.

Kiki suggested the candidate use her fingers.

The moment prompted an incredulous response from New York Times national political correspondent Jonathan Martin, who asked on Twitter, “Could this really be the first time in 50 years she ate fried chicken?”

Longtime New York Times columnist and New York Magazine writer-at-large Frank Rich pounced, tweeting, “Is there anything Gillibrand has done that is not contrived and opportunistic? I ask the question seriously. Replies welcome.”

The criticism was met with pushback from others in the media sphere.

Soledad O’Brien, who anchors a weekly political television show, tweeted, “Oh God. It’s starting again. Please, journalists. Don’t do this. Nobody cares how she — or anyone — eats fried chicken.” 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE was at the center of a similar mini-uproar during the 2016 campaign when he was mocked for eating Kentucky Fried Chicken with silverware aboard a private plane.

Scrutinizing candidates for how they eat has almost become a national political pastime.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders campaign reports raising M in less than a day The Memo: Bernie Sanders’s WH launch sharpens ‘socialist’ question Gillibrand uses Trump Jr. tweet to fundraise MORE (D-Mass.), another White House hopeful, took flak last month for downing a beer on an Instagram livefeed.

Trump tweeting a picture of himself enjoying a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo in 2016 prompted an outpouring of criticism from people who opposed his immigration policies.

Former Ohio governor and White House hopeful John Kasich (R) became a target in 2016 when he was photographed eating a slice of pizza with a knife and fork in Howard Beach, Queens.

The New York Post summed up the outrage with a headline demanding to know “WTF is wrong with John Kasich?”

Four years earlier, then White House presidential candidate Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCNN hires former DOJ spokesperson under Sessions as editor on 2020 campaign Congress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union MORE, whose net worth is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, was mocked for snacking on Regular-Joe staples.

The New York Times observed the “self-initiated product-placement regiment in his campaign — to sometimes awkward effect — branding himself with less-than-luxury everyman labels” after Romney praised Carl’s Jr. jalapeño chicken sandwich.

Romney also took some ribbing from The Atlantic for enjoying a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair. 

Former Rep. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannGillibrand becomes latest candidate scrutinized for how she eats on campaign trail Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents Yes, condemn Roseanne, but ignoring others is true hypocrisy MORE (R-Minn.), who briefly stood atop the polls early in the 2012 presidential campaign, suffered her own corn dog scandal at the Iowa State Fair when she was photographed taking a big bite out of a footlong cornmeal encrusted sausage.