Obama tweet by UT student stirs dispute
College Republicans ask her to step down from role as president of organization
Published: Thursday, November 17, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 19:07
In a tweet heard 'round the web Wednesday, Lauren Pierce, president of the University of Texas College Republicans chapter, caused a firestorm of controversy and criticism when she used the suspected assassination attempt of President Barack Obama to voice her political opinions.
"Y'all as tempting as it may be, don't shoot Obama," Pierce tweeted. "We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we've EVER had! #2012."
Pennsylvania state troopers arrested Oscar Ramiro Ortega Monday for allegedly using a semiautomatic rifle to shoot at the White House from a vehicle in Washington, D.C.
Within an hour of the tweet, ABC News picked up the story with the headline "Texas College GOP Leader: Obama Assassination ‘Tempting.'"
The Daily Texan, the University of Texas student newspaper, reported the tweet was immediately taken down, but calls for Pierce's resignation from the College Republicans have come from within and outside the organization. Pierce also served as secretary of the statewide Texas College Republicans organization.
John Chapman, Texas College Republicans communications director, said the organization had no other choice.
"Pierce will not be making any public statements, but we have officially requested that she resign from all official positions within the TCR," Chapman said. "We have already appointed Brian Mitchell from Texas State as our new secretary, and Pierce's position within the UT Chapter is being discussed internally at the moment."
In an official press release, Texas College Democrats also called for Pierce's resignation.
"It is never acceptable to joke about assassinating an elected official," the release stated. "Texas College Democrats encourages Lauren Pierce to resign from her leadership positions in the UT College Republicans and Texas College Republicans."
Although Pierce later tweeted an apology claiming the controversial tweet was done in poor taste, the damage had already been done. Freshman general studies major Allison O'Gorman said Pierce's act is inexcusable.
"I don't understand why someone in a position like hers would tweet something like that," O'Gorman said. "She had to learn the hard way that almost anyone, anywhere, at anytime could read your statuses or tweets. If I were her, I would step down right away."
Democrats across campus are also outraged at Pierce. Andrew Briggs, senior geology major, said the timing of the incident makes it even more inappropriate.
"You can't just joke about shooting the president," Briggs said. "It's stupid since anyone who has watched the news recently would know someone was just arrested for shooting bullets into the White House."
In spite of the controversy, some continue to stand with Pierce, saying she was unfairly targeted by opposition organizations. Peggy Venable, Americans for Prosperity: Texas director, worked personally with Pierce and had nothing but positive things to say about the young conservative.
"All of this has been blown way out of proportion and it's been entirely misconstrued," Venable said.
"Students now-a-days are used to tweeting about whatever is on their mind, and that's all that really happened here. While inappropriate and an error in judgment, I am convinced that Lauren had no ill intent."