Herman Cain Smoke Ad

The unique ad above is creating a lot of creation among political observers.

In the video, posted this week on You Tube, Cain’s top aide Mark Block, in close up, says the candidate “will put the united back in United States. … We’ve run a campaign like nobody’s ever seen. But then, America’s never seen a candidate like Herman Cain.”

The kicker: Block takes a long thoughtful pull on a cigarette and blows smoke into the lens.
No one but villains has smoked onscreen for decades, so Block’s drag quickly became the puff of legend. The video was picked up by political news shows and blogs and parodied on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report. It scored more than 870,000 views on Cain’s YouTube channel.

It was also awarded a slot on several lists of the wackiest political ads ever. Democratic consultant James Carville, echoing a pundit consensus that the ad made little sense, concluded Block was “drunk or stoned,” he said Thursday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Fox News has reactions:

David Letterman reacts:

Jimmy Kimmel reacts:

Jon Huntsman Parodies:

(or more specifically: Jon Huntsman’s 3 daughters are the ones doing the parodying)

SlateTV Parodies:

Video Blog Analysis from HowtheWorldWorks:

The Washington Post asks what the point was? Answer: There isn’t one.

“There was no subliminal message,” he told Kelly. “In fact, I personally would encourage people not to smoke. It’s just that I’m a smoker and a lot of people on the staff said, ‘Just let Block be Block.’ That’s what it’s all about.”

Well, that may be the least plausible interpretation of all. After all, much of the perplexity stems from Block’s obscurity. Who is this guy, anyway, and what does he do? Since no one has ever won an election based on his chief of staff’s personality, letting ”Block be Block” hardly seems like a winning communications strategy for Herman Cain.

More plausible is that Block’s smoking telegraphs defiance and independence. Smoking has been de-glamorized and marginalized for decades, and it has been killing people for even longer. But that hasn’t stopped 46 million U.S. adults from doing it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As Block said later in his Fox News interview, “You walk into a veterans’ bar in Iowa and they’re sitting around smoking. I’m not the only one in America who smokes, for God’s sake.”

In other words, Block, and by extension Cain, may be keeping it real for both nicotine slaves and those who don’t like to see them pushed around.

Cain talked about the ad on the radio (starting at 7 minutes):

Bob Shiefer asked Cain what the point was and added that he himself, a cancer survivor was not amused (editors note: Shieffer calls it a “television ad” but this was not run on tv and was never intended to. it is a web only ad).

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