Iowa Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield raised $132,000 by highlighting her dog Ringo after Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates Bipartisan momentum builds for war on terror memorial GOP senators unveil bill designating Taliban as terrorist organization MORE (R-Iowa) accused Greenfield of “hiding in the basement” with him.
On a call with supporters, Ernst said that while she was discussing economic issues with constituents, Greenfield had been “hiding in her basement taking selfies with her dog Ringo," as first reported by the blog Caffeinated Thoughts.
Greenfield’s campaign fundraised off of the remark, pairing the audio of Ernst with video of the five-year-old rescue dog. Thousands of Twitter users tweeted the hashtag #IStandWithRingo. The campaign also put Ringo’s image in advertising and a donation email. The result was the campaign’s best single fundraising day for all of July, according to the Des Moines Register.
"Listen, Ringo is a very good boy, but I don't think anyone expected him to become a viral star," spokesperson Sam Newton told the Register.
Newton told the newspaper that, with the capacity to campaign in person limited by the coronavirus pandemic, such viral moments were essential to their strategy.
"We've really built and invested in the digital infrastructure to make sure that when there is a moment like this we can really capitalize," he said.
Ernst’s campaign told the register the senator’s slight against the dog was not meant personally.
"We love Ringo and think it’s the perfect name for her dog, because Theresa Greenfield always gets by with a little help from her liberal Washington friends. Actually, a lot of help," spokesperson Brendan Conley said in a statement, according to the newspaper.
Ernst and Greenfield are in a tight race for a seat that may be pivotal to determining control of the Senate. Greenfield leads Ernst by a single point, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls.