The Surprising Way Mr. Rogers Became Part Of The 2020 Campaign

There aren't many American children who grew up without being a part of Fred Rogers and his neighborhood. Although he passed away in 2003, Mr Rogers is still very much a part of the country's pop culture landscape, and he is revered for his kindness and compassion. He was also reintroduced to a new generation of fans by way of Tom Hanks and the 2019 movie, "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" (via IMDb) — the song Mr Rogers sang when he opened the show. 

So it wasn't a surprise when social media took exception to a comment made by senior adviser to President Donald Trump's campaign Mercedes Schlapp, who used Twitter to compare Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden's town hall with Mr Roger's television show, saying: "Well @JoeBiden @ABCPolitics townhall feels like I am watching an episode of Mister Rodgers Neighborhood" (via USA Today). It appears that Schlapp had been criticizing the difference in tone between the Trump town hall on NBC hosted by Savannah Guthrie and the Biden town hall hosted by ABC's George Stephanopolous. Schlapp also later tweeted: "No hard questions for @JoeBiden from the ABC townhall." to explain her comment.

Schlapp was heavily criticized for her Mr. Rogers comment

Mercedes Schlapp's original tweet attracted scathing criticism from Mr Rogers fans. One posted: "Only in Trumpworld is Mr. Rodgers anything but a good guy, a great teacher, and a unifier." and then took exception to the way Schlapp had misspelled the TV icon's name. Another tweeted: "I don't think Mercedes has ever actually seen the show. If she has, she obviously didn't learn anything from it." A third noted: "Many adults remember Mr Rodgers as a deeply affirming and comforting adult figure in their lives — especially if their home lives were difficult or hard. Mr Rogers is beloved by so many. Comparing him to @JoeBiden is quite the compliment." Memes of Joe Biden as Fred Rogers even began circulating on social media.

Celebrities also weighed in on Schlapp's comment, with Chris Cuomo tweeting: "More of a Twilight Zone fan apparently". Schlapp's comment also drew a comment from Mark Hamill (yes, that Mark Hamill) who tweeted: "She says watching @JoeBiden feels like she's watching Mr. Rogers* as if being intelligent, thoughtful, decent & inclusive is a BAD thing. I like presidents who aren't unhinged, conspiracy-minded, white-nationalist fans. *misspells his name, of course"

But as one Twitter user put it, "It's a good twitter day when my timeline is flooded with memorable clips of Mr. Rogers. Hearing his voice and his love and compassion makes all of us feel better."