"Now Is The Time For Action!" isn't the strangest campaign ad Herman Cain has run since becoming a presidential candidate -- that honor goes to "He Carried Yellow Flowers," in which Nick Searcy acts like an entitled Hollywood jerk for four minutes in order to make a point about how Herman Cain is awesome, or something? But this most recent spot features what is easily the most questionable directorial decision made in an ad this season. After offering about forty seconds worth of bromides about Cain and the great campaign he is running, Cain Chief of Staff Mark Block puffs on a cigarette.
And hey, smoke 'em if you got 'em! But can it wait? Because when you're making an important pledge to "take the country back," it's best to send the right message. And the wrong message is, "Guys, I'm on my smoke break."
Why do this? The Buffalo Beast's Ian Murphy speculates that Block, who "was, until recently, the Wisconsin State Director of Americans for Prosperity," is just giving a shout out to AFP's generous funders from the tobacco industry. Cain has also worked closely with cigarette manufacturers in the past. As the head of the National Restaurant Association, he lobbied against higher cigarette taxes and smoking bans in restaurants.
Dan Amira raises the interesting notion that the moment was included in an effort to make the ad "go viral." Mission accomplished, I guess.
People should give Block credit for honesty, however. When he says, "We've run a campaign like nobody's ever seen," that's true. In many early primary states, voters and GOP operatives alike have quite literally not seen evidence of a "Herman Cain campaign."