This Election’s Biggest ‘October Surprise’ May Just Be a 16-Year-Old on TikTok
Since the 1980s, the “October Surprise” has been a mainstay during the presidential election season. Though the term once had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with department stores drastically cutting prices on fall apparel (a very nice surprise, indeed), its meaning has morphed to refer to late-breaking and damaging information that could bring down an entire campaign.
In 2016, now-President Donald Trump’s infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which he spoke about women in vulgar and misogynistic tones, was one of two major October Surprises. The other, of course, being James Comey’s (then the director of the FBI) Oct. 28 memo stating that the bureau would continue looking into Hillary Clinton’s much-discussed email servers.
This year’s election cycle has been no different. The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was seen by many as an early October surprise. And things have just continued avalanching from there, with the usual sources (read: The New York Times) investigating the sitting president’s taxes, Trump announcing that stimulus talks were off the table until after the election and, of course, the revelation that both Donald and Melania Trump had tested positive for COVID-19.
But the public may not have known as much about the health of at least one of the people closest to the president if it weren’t for an unexpected whistleblower: 16-year-old Claudia Conway.
The daughter of former Trump senior advisor Kellyanne Conway and prominent attorney George Conway has always been outspoken about her criticism of Trump. But after it was revealed that the president had tested positive for COVID-19, the teen took to TikTok to reveal that her mother, who had attended the Rose Garden event for Amy Coney Barrett that’s speculated to be a superspreader event, had tested positive for the virus. That happened hours before Kellyanne Conway revealed her status to the public herself.
Though Claudia had already been popular on the social media platform, her revelations sent her into trending status, leading many to wonder whether Kellyanne would have revealed her status if it hadn’t been leaked on TikTok by her own daughter. And then people also wondered what other information the teen was privy to living in a home with two political heavyweights.
These questions were further compounded when Claudia began speculating on the president’s health and commenting that Trump wasn’t doing as well as the public was led to believe. “[G]uys lmao [Trump is] not doing ‘better,” she wrote in one comment. “[H]e is so ridiculous. apparently he is doing badly lol and they are doing what they can to stabilize him,” she wrote in another. Claudia also posted videos of herself fighting with her mother about the videos — one in which an audibly angry Kellyanne swore at her and all of which have now been deleted and replaced with a personally-penned statement claiming that the teen is not “the ‘whistleblower’ of our time.”
Though Claudia and the other Conways have asked to be left alone during this time, Claudia has continued to post on TikTok, both on her main account and a smaller, more private account on which she sometimes goes “live” to interact with her followers. Sometimes very late at night. And sometimes she speaks in code. So while no one can say for sure whether a teen with access to social media (for now) will be the one to derail an entire campaign, we can’t rule it out, either.
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