Kiss Rick Gorka’s Ass!

When I read the other day that Rick Gorka, Mitt Romney’s traveling press secretary, had ignited a mini-controversy in Poland by telling reporters to kiss his ass, I immediately recalled the scene I witnessed on a campaign bus in 2010. Gorka was then serving as press secretary to Charlie Baker, who was in the middle of a disastrous run against Governor Deval Patrick.

While reporting the story, I spent a good deal of time communicating with Gorka, but it wasn’t until the day of a campaign bus trip through parts of Massachusetts that I finally met him in person. He struck me as a warm, friendly, and clearly bright guy—while in his late twenties he’d headed up the West Coast communications operation for John McCain’s 2008 presidential run—but he also exuded a kind of manic energy. Here’s how I wrote about my experience on that bus:

As the bus hits the highway, the media team is hammering away at laptops and cell phones in the back. The goal of this frenzied effort is to fill the Twitterverse with the campaign’s talking points about Patrick and his tax-and-spend soul. The team has just discovered that Lowell’s Pollard Memorial Library, where Baker is going to deliver his speech, is the same spot where Patrick once proposed raising the Massachusetts gas tax to generate revenue for the state’s crumbling bridges and roads.

“Do you want me to tweet something about the gas tax?” asks Jay Altschuler, a campaign social-media specialist. “It says here that’s why we’re going to Lowell. We can retweet the hell out of that for the next hour.”

“Yeah!” says Rick Gorka, Baker’s press secretary. Then Gorka calls campaign headquarters. “Hey,” he says, “it’s true that Patrick’s never submitted a budget without a tax increase, right?” Hanging up, Gorka starts banging out a tweet on his phone. Three minutes later, the message, posted under the name CB_CommsDir, appears on Twitter: Heading to the same library in Lowell where Patrick called for a huge increase in the gas tax.

Gorka’s followers on Twitter – some of them campaign workers – immediately begin retweeting the post. Gorka, who headed up the West Coast communications operation for John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, starts in with another message: Deval’s never submitted a budget w/o a tax/fee increase and has never met a tax he didn’t like, MA’s had enough. Between tweets, Gorka, who is 30, and his team trade lines from various Chris Farley movies and 1990s rap songs. “I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller!” Gorka calls out. “I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her!”

“I wonder,” says one of the media guys, “if it’s just our little world that does this.”

“It is to some extent,” replies Altschuler. “What you have to understand is it’s not so much the tweets that go back and forth, it’s the information that’s exchanged. You’re changing what people know.”

The Romney campaign is back in the States now, of course. And according to Reuters correspondent Sam Youngman, Gorka is currently taking a little time off.

From what I can tell, he’s earned it.


Follow John Wolfson on Twitter: @johnwolfson.