July 19, 2016

Strickland Slammed For “Racially Insensitive” Fortune Cookie Flap

“Retread” Ted Strickland’s big moment bracketing the Republican National Convention in Cleveland took an off-message turn when he came under fire from reporters and Asian-American advocates for using fortune cookies to attack his opponent on China.

Strickland’s campaign, blissfully oblivious to their own tone-deafness, gleefully touted their gambit as “pretty funny.” The backlash was swift:

Yet Strickland was still bragging about it at an afternoon press conference with embattled DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, when reporter Andy Chow with Ohio Public Radio pressed him on whether his campaign props were “racially insensitive.” What followed was one of the most cringeworthy exchanges between a candidate and a member of the press in the 2016 cycle:

Chow: “Governor are you at all concerned that the use of fortune cookies might be racially insensitive?” 

Strickland: “No, no, no you know when I say he’s the best senator that China’s ever had. I’m not saying anything bad about China.” 

But here’s the big catch for people like Wong and Chinese American advocates — fortune cookies have nothing to do with China. Many say the fortune cookie was invented by a baker in San Francisco and some historians say the origins can be traced even further back in time to Japan.

When pressed on the fact that China doesn’t use fortune cookies, Strickland said it was more about the symbol.

Strickland: “Well but we associate them with what we get when we go to eat at a Chinese restaurant.”

Chow: “At an American Chinese restaurant?”

Strickland: “Um, yes and American Chinese restaurant absolutely.”

Staff 1: “Governor we’ve got to run we’ve got to run.”

Staff 2: “We should get to our next event.”

Other media outlets and Asian-American advocacy groups were quick to pick up on Strickland’s offensive faux pas:

Cleveland Plain-Dealer:Ted Strickland’s fortune-cookie gimmick isn’t to everyone’s taste”

WKSU: Chinese American Groups Call Ted Strickland’s Fortune Cookie Campaign Tactic ‘Insensitive’”