This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.
The traditional roll call of states looked a lot different than usual at Tuesday night’s Democratic National Convention. Since the coronavirus outbreak prevented representatives of the 57 states and territories from gathering in person, they filmed individual videos in their home locations. Some were touching, some were inspirational, some were lively. Then there was America’s smallest state, Rhode Island, which got downright fishy.
In the state’s video, filmed on Oakland Beach in Warwick, Rep. Joseph McNamara noted that Rhode Island’s restaurant and fishing industries have been “decimated by this pandemic,” and praised Gov. Gina Raimondo for allowing seafood to be sold directly to the public.
“Our state appetizer, calamari, is available in all 50 states,” McNamara said, as Executive Chef John Bordieri from Iggy’s Boardwalk Restaurant stood next to him, silently holding a giant platter of the fried squid. “The calamari comeback state of Rhode Island casts one vote for Bernie Sanders and 34 votes for the next president Joe Biden!”
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Rhode Island was quite possibly the only state that offered up regional eats during its brief appearance, and viewers hungered for more.
“We are casting these votes for Biden, or the platter gets it,” wrote one Twitter user.
So is this a contest? Because Rhode Island wins.
— Sam T. (@samuelt22223) August 19, 2020
I guess when Rhode Island drops “and Providence Plantations” they can add “and Calamari as our state appetizer.”
— This American Adam (@adamconner) August 19, 2020
There’s a ‘squid pro quo’ joke in there somewhere
— Kalamazoo Jambo (@KalamazooJambo) August 19, 2020
For some, it was Chef Bordieri in his black face mask who took center stage.
“Rhode Island showcasing its two biggest exports: calamari (and) rejected Mortal Kombat characters,” wrote one Twitter user.
And they say he’s still there to this day, holding that calamari.
— Matt Lynn (@geekinabox) August 19, 2020
My home state of Rhode Island went full on for the virtual DNC roll call, standing on the beach, declaring us the “Calamari Comeback State” and featuring a ninja with a plate of squid. Very on brand, RI! pic.twitter.com/0YHgoxqslB
— Lucia Vancura (@luciavancura) August 19, 2020
Maybe it took the tiniest state in the union to start a new political trend. Some on social media noted that they’d like to see more regional pride and specific foodstuffs displayed during future roll calls.
“This is what I was hoping for more of,” wrote one Twitter user. “Old-fashioned state bragging … birthplace of the Slinky, home of the world-famous kazoo museum, and holder of the tap-dancing world record, casts 3 votes for its native son.”
This is what I was hoping for more of. Old-fashioned state bragging: …birthplace of the Slinky, home of the world-famous kazoo museum, and holder of the tap-dancing world record, casts 3 votes for its native son…
— Fleisch (@Fleisch2) August 19, 2020
Should NEVER go back to the old way. This was priceless!!!!
— Sharon Not Karen 😷🐾☮️ (@SGarner2603) August 19, 2020
felt like I was watching Eurovision! loved it!
— laynie (@penstone) August 19, 2020
Alexandra, I have one note. What if every state had to carry a single dish from their state during their roll call?
— Map Nerd (@EarlGreyTango) August 19, 2020
Yes and submit the recipe so we all have like 50+ new things to cook 🤓
— MarthaW (@TheArtsyMartha) August 19, 2020
The Democratic National Convention resumes Wednesday night, with Sen. Kamala Harris, the party’s vice-presidential nominee, scheduled to speak.