9 Republican Campaign Flops: Guns, Dresses, Cats, and More
Earlier in the election season, we looked at a series of terrible election campaigns; from midterm candidate Kesha Rogers’s webpage plastered with a Hitler-mustachioed Obama, to J.D. Winteregg’s Viagra reminiscent ad against incumbent Ohio Senator John Boehner. Winteregg’s cerebral political analysis of Washington reminded viewers that, “If you have a Boehner lasting longer than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention.” Of course, who could forget Texas Governor David Dewhurst’s Frozen parody ad?
As the midterm election season has progressed, a whole slew of new campaign ads have been poured into America’s media, and while many of them have been quite terrible, Republicans in particular have made some pretty big mistakes on the ad front. Or, at least in the case of guns, they’ve started repeating themselves in unbelievable and comical proportions.
Congress Eligibility Test: Can You Shoot a Gun?
This may as well be a serious question for many Republicans, judging on ad campaigns, an enormous number of which this year just had to feature lawmakers or congressional hopefuls aiming guns at everything from Obamacare legislation, to targets, to TVs. Still, seeing as Alaska is well known for its pro-gun stance, it is hardly surprising incumbent challenger Dan Sullivan (R) felt the need to shoot a TV; though when something like that can be described as “hardly surprising,” you have to wonder about the state of America.
In some respects, this isn’t really a failure so much as an unoriginal and predictable way to appeal to voters. These men and women have whole teams working for them to find which issues are most likely to inflame voters, and for many right-leaning constituents, the NRA-aligned candidate who supports the second amendment right is the one who will fire them up most. There’s also the forever ongoing efforts to make candidates appealing and relateable to voters as just your fellow father, son, hunter, gun owner, and so on. Though Tea Party Senate challenger Greg Brannon (R-N.C.), who lost his campaign, was likely not overly humanized by the stream of shots and silence shown in the ad below.
Then there was Will Brooke’s attack on the Affordable Care Act with various guns, and eventually a wood chipper.
Republicans aren’t the only ones picking up guns, of course, though they do overwhelmingly outnumber Democratic ads involving guns. Still, there are two definitely worth mentioning. The first is Alison Grimes, a Kentucky Democrat, shooting skeet and saying in canned tones: “Mitch, that’s not how you hold a gun,” to the image of incumbent Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell (R) holding a gun up in the air, though probably without any plans to shoot it. There’s also Estakio Beltran, a Democrat in Washington state who shoots a fake elephant, saying that, “What happens to an elephant that stands around dong nothing too long?” before riding off on a small donkey with the gun over his shoulder.
Perhaps one of the funniest and/or most disturbing gun-toting conservative is Iowa candidate Bob Quast who warns that, “If you’re the sexual predator and sociopath who murdered my sister Lynette, and you come to my front door to do harm to my girls, I’m going to use my Glock, to blow your balls off.” There’s something emotionally charged and angry about this statement, and the cheerful whistling music in the background and twinkling smile at the end of it only make matters worse. The rest of the ad is nearly as scary, including the part where he tells Congressman Bruce Braley that, “You have nothing to fear, as we are friendly folks here in Iowa,” while holding up the aforementioned Glock and a knife.
Quast may be a long shot — no pun intended — for the seat, but he definitely deserves a place on the list of bad ad campaigns. Though to his credit, he did make the ad himself, or so he claims at the end.
Then there’s conservative Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst, who rides up on her motorcycle clad in leather and pulls her gun out to show off her aim, all while the voice-over let’s voters know that she “carries more than just lipstick in her purse.”
Finally, we have Montana’s Matt Rosendale (R) pretending to shoot a drone — “spying on our citizens, that’s just wrong” — before launching into predictable criticism of big government and Washington D.C.
Say Yes to Rick Snyder, i.e. Sexism at Its Worst
Let’s move away from guns for a moment to discuss the rampant, unapologetic, and vaguely nauseating sexism in Governor Rick Snyder’s (R) ad campaign, which has had media buzzing for weeks now. It’s a small wonder that Republicans have such a disconnect with women voters, even ignoring anti-abortion and contraceptive stances and the insensitive rape rhetoric too many have contributed to.
If the only way candidates know how to reach out to female voters is to compare shopping for a Governor to shopping for a wedding dress, it’s only fair that women feel insulted, belittled, and shoved into gender norms created by the 1950s. Watching the sample voter, “Brittney,” shop for her perfect candidate with cliché stereotypical comments from the mom and friend characters feels like an insult to citizens’ intelligence. This is not reality TV, and it’s not a white wedding ceremony (because of course marriage and dresses are all that we find interesting), it’s a political election, and candidates would get a better response by treating it as such, as is clear from the backlash this ad has already resulted in.
Republicans Are People Too; You Can Tell Because They Like Cats Better Than Dogs
You’re doing something wrong if you think you need to remind the public that your members are human and have feelings. Plus, way to alienate cat loyalists in the cat-dog battle that’s been waged in perpetuity since the dawn of time.
If you need to humanize members of the GOP, it suggests they might not seem terribly human in the first place. By listing off racial and gender inclusiveness one by one, the ad calls to mind the old white, wealthy, and male stereotype so long associated with the party.
Insensitivity and Foley
The timing of Allen Weh’s ad against Obama and Democrats in Congress would have been powerful, especially given its clear critique of international policy just as fear of ISIL and events in the Middle East was coming to a head. However, the Republican candidate for New Mexico took a great deal of abuse for his decision to take the ad one step further and include an image of recently murdered reporter James Foley not long after the video of his execution was released online. After critics attacked the ad as insensitive, Weh refused to apologize, but instead released a statement saying that, “I’m not a politically correct guy in a lot of ways, that’s one thing. This town may not be ready for me. I will call a spade a spade.”
Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS
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