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American Conservative Union chairman slammed for 'straight-up appeal to bigotry' after Kavanaugh hearing tweet

Never tweet, the wisdom goes — but it's too late for Matt Schlapp.

During the Brett Kavanaugh Senate hearings Thursday, Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, retweeted a picture of Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), writing, "Look at this photo conservative voters in WV, ND, IN, FL, MO, MT, MI, TN, AZ, NV." The picture was taken as Democratic senators questioned Kavanaugh on allegations that he groped and tried to rape Christine Blasey Ford when he was in high school. Ford testified Thursday that she was "100 percent" sure Kavanaugh perpetrated the assault, while Kavanaugh strongly denied the allegations.

But as the photo Schlapp shared happens to focus solely on the three Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee who are people of color, he was quickly slammed for what critics argued was a racist dog-whistle.

Conservative Bill Kristol, the editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard, said Schlapp's tweet "seems to be a straight-up appeal to bigotry." Kristol also suggested that the tweet was especially outrageous because Schlapp's wife is Mercedes Schlapp, the White House's director of strategic communications. Meanwhile, Federalist contributor Tom Nichols, a Republican, also found the tweet to be questionable, writing, "I wonder what it is about this photo Schlapp finds so alarming."

Schlapp tried to defend himself by saying that the racial implications were unintentional, arguing he was simply sharing "a photo of three senators who tried to destroy my friend" and saying that "if the photo had included [Democratic Sen. Dianne] Feinstein it would have been even better." But not everyone bought this explanation, with The Weekly Standard's deputy managing editor, Kelly Jane Torrance, saying she found it "entirely unconvincing."