According to the website spreadingromney.com, “Romney” means “to defecate in terror.” Give Jack Shepler credit for that definition.
The Indianapolis-based web developer, DJ and occasional NUVO contributor was inspired to start the website after viewing a similar setup at spreadingsantorum.com. Shepler may be busy running two companies — the print and web design firm Ayokay and the dance music promotions company OnTrack — but he still allocates time to keep up with politics.
His tongue-in-cheek jest has garnered him national attention in this seemingly never-ending election cycle. NUVO got the inside track on Shepler’s project during a recent email exchange. - Wade Coggeshall
NUVO: What exactly is spreadingromney.com?
Jack Shepler: SpreadingRomney is a simple one-page website that defines “Romney” as a verb, “to defecate in terror.” The word “terror” links to an article rehashing a story that Mitt Romney told about a 12-hour family drive across the country where he put his dog in a kennel and put it on the roof of the van. The story goes that the dog defecated and it dripped down the window. He pulled into a gas station, cleaned off the dog and the van, put the dog back in the carrier and continued on the journey.
NUVO: Where did you come up with the idea for it?
Shepler: It felt like a stroke of genius at first, even if it was based in part on someone else’s old idea. SpreadingSantorum.com defines Santorum as … well, it’s a bit too vulgar for print, I imagine. After I read the story about Romney and his dog, I put the two together in my mind and created the site. It took under an hour to register the domain, set up hosting, create the page, add social tools and get it out into the wild.
NUVO: What do you hope to accomplish?
Shepler: Besides doing it for the LOLs, I also did it to raise awareness for two key characteristics of Romney: First, I think you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat animals. Second, when faced with the dilemma, he simply cleaned the mess up and put the dog right back on top of the van. It seems pretty heartless to me.
NUVO: What kind of response have you received from it so far?
Shepler: Initially the site got a lot of social activity — tweets and Facebook posts were pouring in. Two days after launch, Rachel Maddow spent a good chunk of her show talking about it. I was thrilled — I’m a huge Maddow fan. I couldn’t believe it. After that there was a short spike in traffic, but it was relatively low over the past three weeks until Friday, when an SEO blogger chose to look into how the website was able to hit page one for a Google search for “Romney.” He decided it was a mystery, since there didn’t seem to be any foul play or tampering with the results. In a later article, he confirmed with Google and Bing that indeed the site is ranked where it should be and that there didn’t seem to be any “Google bombing” going on.
Since then the site has been covered by tons of news media. I’ve done interviews with Rolling Stone, Mashable, The Atlantic, The American Prospect, ABC and just recently a live radio interview with CBS Radio in Seattle.
NUVO: What do you think of the other Republican candidates for president?
Shepler: Unfortunately for Republicans, even they realize they don’t have someone that’s electable. Romney is the rich guy that says what he thinks you want him to say. Santorum is socially backwards to the point that I’m surprised he hasn’t yet told women to get back in the kitchen. Ron Paul has some great ideas but he also wants to reverse the last couple hundred years of social progress in terms of civil rights. And Newt is pretending to be the “morals” candidate after so much painfully awful hypocrisy. Worse, all four candidates would love to throw all forms of regulations out the window. I rather like my water un-poisoned.
NUVO: Anything additional you have planned for the website?
Shepler: I have no plans to expand on the website currently, but that could change if he gets the nomination.