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Smoking Hot: Republican Presidential Frontrunner Herman Cain’s Strange Campaign Ad

Posted on the 26 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Smoking hot: Republican presidential frontrunner Herman Cain’s strange campaign ad

Smokin' hot? Herman Cain. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore,

It’s not easy campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination. Even in a media-saturated world, it can be hard to get your message across; to show what you stand for. Judging by his latest campaign video, presidential candidate Herman Cain stands for moustachioed men in glasses who smoke cigarettes and like soft rock.

Internet sensation. Cain’s video has certainly garnered a lot of attention. The ad shows his campaign manager, Mark Block, talking happily about why Cain should be president, before silently  taking a drag on a cigarette. The ad closes with shot of Cain turning to camera, in the manner of an X Factor contestant, as a Krista Branch “bold new pop rock anthem” plays.

Theories. According to New York Magazine, it’s the mysterious cigarette moment that has grabbed the most attention, with a host of theories making the rounds. Indeed, the smoking section may be the whole point of the video:  ”The smoking scene guaranteed that the ad would become viral. The Cain campaign knew that the mainstream media would throw a hissy fit over the inclusion of cigarette in a campaign ad, and they were 100 percent correct!” Other theories include: Cain was taking a swipe at the anti-tobacco lobby; Cain thought it looked cool.

Brilliant. Writing on a Washington Post blog, Alexandra Petri argued that the ad is so bad that it’s actually good. “This ad takes everything they tell you not to do in political ads and distills it to its essence. And then somebody smokes”, she wrote.

Who’s laughing now? For all the mirth inspired by the ad, Cain still leads Republican rivals Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in recent polls. Nevetheless, Tim Stanley argued in The Daily Telegraph that Cain’s lack of media-savvy could be his undoing – and that this would be a shame: “Without brave men like Herman Cain making a few honest mistakes, we’re left with Mitt and Rick’s vacuous grins”, he wrote.

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