While election day was in 2012, the campaign for the Presidency of the United States began in earnest in May 2011 with the Republican presidential primaries. Below are my top five moments of the campaign, but lest we forget: Rick Santorum, Newt (moonbase) Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Rick (3 agencies) Perry, Karl (I got it wrong) Rove and finally, Nate (I got it right) Silver.
1. The smoking campaign ad
Was this a genius awareness-raising campaign strategy or just a bat shit crazy ad? Whatever it was, Herman Cain’s chief of staff, Mark Block, achieved notoriety with his deep stares direct to camera while telling us why Herman should be president. And then he takes a long draw on a cigarette as the music pumps and the ad cuts to a close-up of Cain approving the message with a blossoming smile. Who wouldn’t be persuaded by a CoS endorsing their own boss? Gold.
2. An empty chair
The candidates failed to capture the limelight at the conventions. Instead it was Clint Eastwood and Bill Clinton who reigned over the Republican and Democrat conventions respectively. Clinton stirred the party faithful with a fact-filled rally cry endorsing the man who won the nomination over his wife four years earlier. And Clint… well, Clint did a stand-up routine with a bar stool representing the president that could generously be described as bizarre. Even the Republican delegates were confused by Clint’s ‘call and response’ efforts.
3. 47 %
Is Mitt Romney the last person on earth to discover that as a candidate one is always ‘on the record’? Leaked footage of a private Florida fund-raiser showed the billionaire former governor making disparaging remarks about ‘47 per cent of the US population’ who didn’t pay income taxes, were government freeloaders and saw themselves as “victims”. While not catastrophic on its own, that gaff added to his campaign litany of privilege statements. The irony: Romney won about 47 per cent of the electorate on November 6.
(And let’s not forget the Etch-a-sketch moment.)
4. Debate no-show
The eagerly anticipated first debate between Obama and Romney fizzled when it appeared the President forgot to turn up. Romney came out enthused, confident and commanding, and kept up that momentum (possibly only surpassed by the fact-checkers), while Obama looked down most of the time, didn’t challenge Romney and gave an uncharacteristic lackluster performance. The only person possibly less engaged in the debate was the moderator, Jim Lehrer.
5. Donald Trump
He withdrew his non-nomination as a candidate for the Republicans and was a highly sought after commentator (on Fox News), but Donald Trump’s finest moment in the campaign was offering the president a $5 million donation to his charity of choice if he produced his college transcripts and passport applications. When the deadline coincided with Hurricane Sandy, Mr Trump generously extended it. The president declined the offer. Poor Donald then had a Twitter meltdown on election night as Obama’s win became obvious, with gems like “This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!”, as well as calling for marches on Washington and general revolution.
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