Presidential candidates meet and hear of a lot of people during their time spent stumping and speaking. While most of those folks are instantly forgotten, some people manage to get their 15 minutes of fame by being highlighted by the campaigns. The following are a few individuals who featured prominently in presidential campaigns.
6- Joe 6-Pack
He's your average Joe. Your next door neighbor. The guy standing next to you in the beer aisle trying to decide between Natty Light and Hamms. The classic alcoholic American in all of us--and evidently Sarah Palin's best friend. This guy isn't known for his rock-hard abs or impressive exercise regimen, he's known for gettin' wasted and killin' things. Because in Sarah Palin's eyes, only the white, drunk hunters in this country who live in small towns and say "nuculer" are true Americans. So kick back in that Lay-Z Boy, pull the tab off a couple of cold ones and watch some hockey.
5- Wayne Dumond
While this commercial never aired on television, this stilted and contrived video had a strong negative impact on presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's, campaign. While his fundamentalist Christian views may've already alienated the majority of the country and his charismatic-bordering-on-creepy personality was a bit off-putting it certainly didn't help to have the rape and murder of a young girl pinned on his shoulders. At Governor Huckabee's behest, the parole board set Wayne Dumond, a convicted rapist, free, after which he went on to rape and murder a young girl. The mother, Lois Davidson took her revenge on Huckabee by outright blaming the governor in a YouTube video, effectively causing the primary voting crowd to stop hearting Huckabee.
4- Winifred Skinner
What's one of the saddest images you can think of? A little old lady who can't afford her medication? What about a little old lady who picks up cans on the side of the road because Medicaid doesn't cover the cost of her prescription drugs? Yeah, that doesn't really do it for me either because old people creep me out. (Why do they always drool and smell like applesauce?) It turns out, however, that little elderly Winifred Skinner, the woman detailed above, resonated quite deeply with those watching the 2000 Presidential debates. Many identified with the woman who couldn't afford the astronomical medical costs implemented by pharmaceutical companies. Those in the baby boomer generation feared they'd end up like poor Winifred-living in an RV, sick and decrepit, following around some wooden presidential candidate. While she didn't exactly do a whole lot for the Gore campaign, at least she proved to America just how much of a bitch it can be to get old.
3- Willie Horton
Governors just can't seem to get it right. Similar to Wayne Dumon, Willie Horton was a criminal responsible for the demise of not only innocent people, but political careers as well. As governor of Massachusetts, Dukakis support a furlough program which would grant weekend passes to prisoners... including first degree murderers sentenced to life in prison without parole like Willie Horton. While most of the convicts released on weekend holidays behaved themselves, Horton escaped during his leave and pistol whipped, stabbed and beat a man while twice raping the victim's fiance. The situation was then used in a national campaign by Bush the First to highlight the differences between the candidates. Bush=capital punishment; Dukakis=Willie Horton. Lee Atwater, Bush's campaign manager, bragged that by the end of the election, "Willie Horton" would be a household name. While that may not be the case anymore, "Dukakis" isn't exactly standing out in the minds of most people either.
2- Joe The Pumber
Apparently the McCain/Palin folks think connecting with America one American at a time is going to be the way to win this election. Keeping in this vein, John McCain decided to echo Sarah Palin's boy "Joe 6-Pack" by highlighting his own version of his ideal American-Joe the Plumber. He's hardworking, honest and proud. That must be why he was mentioned over twenty times by McCain in the course of an hour-and-a-half debate. Only once people started investigating "Joe" it became clear that Joe was none of the things McCain said he was. He wasn't so much hardworking as he was hoping to be rich "someday." And honest? His name isn't Joe, it's Samuel, and he's not so much an actual plumber as he is an unlicensed one. As for proud? The guy is worrying about what taxes he'll pay if and when he makes over $250,000. Seriously? That's not proud, that's just downright stupid and arrogant.
1- The Welfare Queen
Don't you just love it when old rich white men in power start attacking those most at risk of being stuck in the cycle of poverty in addition to facing institutionalized racism and misogyny? Yeah, me too. Which is one of many reasons why looking back at Ronald Reagan's 1976 presidential campaign is so disturbing. The man literally took his own flagrant racist and sexist stereotypes and launched them into society's lexicon, type-casting welfare recipients ever since. He conveyed this image of a fat, lazy African-American woman with multiple children (and more on the way) living in the lap of luxury while leeching off the public dole. While this idea was completely unfounded (most women who receive welfare work full-time jobs, have been left by their partners, are white, and have only one or two children, etc), people bought into it-kind of like that awesome trickle-down "Reaganomics" that worked so well.
Want some more of the weirdness only Washington DC can inspire? Check out these OMGLists: