Seven years ago, the pack of presidential hopefuls were forced to campaign through the holiday season after the Iowa caucuses were moved up to Jan. 3 in order to preserve their “first-in-the-nation” status. In turn, candidates turned Christmas into another excuse to run political ads. Intruding on the holidays is a difficult task for any political campaign, and many were not up to the task.
Rudy Giuliani Wanted To Send You a Fruitcake
Perhaps the most embarrassing of the December 2007 “holiday card” ads was “Same Gift” from Rudy Giuliani. The candidate dons a red sweater vest and tells the voters that since the campaign is getting in the way of his holiday shopping, his plan is “to get everyone the same gift.”
He proceeds to tick off a conservative checklist “and probably a fruitcake or something.” As the crew is heard dissing his fruitcake, Giuliani turns and growls, “What? It’ll be a really nice fruitcake, with a big red bow on it, or something like that.”
Having shown the voters he’s the kind of guy who gives everyone a fruitcake for Christmas and that thinks he’s funnier than he is, he ended up with four percent of the Iowa caucus vote.
Hillary Clinton Wanted To Send You Universal Pre-K
Hillary Clinton also thought the season was an opportunity to turn Christmas lists into issue laundry lists. In “Presents,” she is seen wrapping gifts labeled “Universal Health Care, “Alternative Energy” and “Bring Troops Home.” “Where did I put Universal Pre-K?” she stiffly says to herself. If not quite the clunker that was “Same Gift,” the ad still came across like an awkward attempt to shoehorn a policy agenda into the holiday season.
And Malia and Sasha Obama Were The Cutest Kids Imaginable
Barack Obama’s ad “Friendship” steered clear of policy proclamations. Less a political ad than a video holiday card, Obama’s family sits in front of a Christmas tree and fireplace, Michelle thanks the voters for their “warmth and friendship” over the year, Barack talks of shared values, saying the “holiday season” reminds us that “the things that unite us as a people are more powerful and enduring than anything that sets us apart.” Then Malia and Sasha absolutely nail the “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays.”
As of today, the 2016 Iowa caucus are scheduled for January 18th, though the date could move up depending on what other states do. As the media consultants for the prospective candidates plan ahead for the Iowa home stretch, they should remember that during the holidays, candidates should do what voters do during the holidays: send a nice card.