The Latest Campaign Tool: Handwriting

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Sept. 27 2012 4:49 PM

Now Who Is Making Fun of Sarah Palin?

Democrats reverse course on urgent issue of writing on one’s hand.

Better than a tele-prompter, former vice-presidential candidate and governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin.
Sarah Palin shows a few notes on her hand during a speech in 2010.

Photo by Debbie Noda/Modesto Bee/MCT via Getty Images.

Not so long ago, writing on one’s hand was frowned upon in the political arena. In 2010, revelations that Sarah Palin had scribbled crib notes onto the palm of her hand ahead of a Tea Party convention Q&A session resulted in derision and mockery. 

Even President Obama’s then-White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, took a jab at Palin during a briefing as he displayed a grocery list written on his hands and joked, “I wrote down ‘eggs,’ ‘milk,’ and ‘bread’… then I wrote down ‘hope’ and ‘change’ just in case I forgot.” Reporters shared knowing laughter.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs jokingly refers to a list written on his hand.
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs jokingly refers to a list written on his hand during a briefing at the White House in 2010.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

Since then, Obama staffers have evidently reversed course on the issue of writing on one’s hand. Last week, Stephanie Cutter, President Obama’s deputy campaign manager, made hand-writing an official White-House-endorsed action, encouraging Obama supporters to wear their support on their flesh. She wrote in her morning tweet: “There’s a new way to say you’re voting for @BarackObama. Post a photo with #ForAll to join in & commit to vote.”

Democratic politicians followed suit.

David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama.

Twitpic via @davidaxelrod.

Twitpic via @davidaxelrod.

Jim Messina, campaign manager for President Obama

Twitpic via @Messina2012.

Twitpic via @Messina2012.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Democratic National Committee chairwoman

Twitpic via @DWStweets.

Twitpic via @DWStweets.


Twitpic via @OFA_PA

Twitpic via @OFA_PA

But the hand is not a surface to be dominated by Democrats! Republicans countered with hand messages of their own.

Rick Perry, governor of Texas

Twitpic via @GovernorPerry.

Twitpic via @GovernorPerry.


Twitpic via @_TJThompson

Twitpic via @_TJThompson.

Now that writing on one’s hands has crossed party lines, Sarah Palin no longer has to commit campaign catchphrases to memory. She can take all the crib notes she needs.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Gives Fetuses Lawyers and Puts Teenage Girls on Trial

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

Big Problems With the Secret Service Were Reported Last Year. Nobody Cared.


Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
Oct. 2 2014 12:58 PM Why Can’t States Do More to Protect Patients From Surprise Medical Bills? It’s complicated.
Lexicon Valley
Oct. 2 2014 1:05 PM What's Wrong With "America's Ugliest Accent"
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 2 2014 12:37 PM St. Louis Study Confirms That IUDs Are the Key to Lowering Teen Pregnancy Rates
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Oct. 2 2014 1:09 PM Are You Enjoying a Picnic on a Dumpsite?
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 12:56 PM My Year Without Flying I’ve stayed on the ground, to help fight climate change. Here’s what happened.
  Health & Science
Oct. 2 2014 12:53 PM The Panic Virus How public health officials are keeping Americans calm about the Ebola threat.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?