Herman Cain releases bizarre advert

The video features Cain's chief of staff smoking a cigarette while "I am America" plays in the backg

 

 

If Herman Cain feared he would be forgotten as the battle between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry heats up, he didn't need to. His latest campaign video has drawn attention -- but not necessarily for the right reasons. It features his chief of staff Mark Block, urging people to support Cain. The strangest moment comes at the end, when Block takes a long drag of his cigarette and blows it into the camera, to the sound track of Tea Party singer Krista Branch's song, "I Am America".

It it unclear exactly what Cain's team wanted to do with the video. Over at CBS, Brian Montoli explains:

The spot was posted on October 19th, according to its YouTube page, but because it was unlisted on Cain's main YouTube page it seems to have gone undiscovered until now. There has been some speculation online that the spot is a hoax, but the Cain campaign late Monday night confirmed to CBS News that it is legitimate.

A campaign official said that the video was "just Block being Block." But it's unclear what the campaign planned to do with the video, whether it was intended to be an ad, or why it wasn't publicly available on Cain's page with his other videos.

Intentionally or not, the ad brings to mind Cain's history opposing smoking bans as a lobbyist with the National Restaurant Association, which the New York Times recently reported out.

They say no publicity is bad publicity, but given that the video has left commentators mystified, it's safe to say it didn't hit the spot.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Emmanuel Macron's "moralisation of politics" comes at a heavy price for his allies

"Fake" jobs in French politics, season 3 episode 1.

Something is rotten in the state of France. No political party – at least none that existed before 2016 – seems immune to the spread of investigations into “fake” or shady parliamentary jobs. The accusations sank centre-right candidate François Fillon’s presidential campaign, and led to Marine Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity in the European parliament (and proxy wars within her party, the National Front). Both deny the allegations. Now the investigations have made their way to the French government, led by Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday morning, justice minister François Bayrou and secretary of state for European affairs Marielle de Sarnez announced their resignation from Philippe’s cabinet. They followed defence minister Sylvie Goulard’s resignation the previous day. The three politicians belonged not to Macron's party, En Marche!, but the centrist MoDem party. Bayrou, the leader, had thrown his weight behind Macron after dropping his own presidential bid in April.

The disappearance of three ministers leaves Emmanuel Macron’s cross-party government, which includes politicians from centre left and centre right parties, without a centrist helm. (Bayrou, who has run several times for the French presidency and lost, is the original “neither left nor right” politician – just with a less disruptive attitude, and a lot less luck). “I have decided not to be part of the next government,” he told the AFP.

Rumours had been spreading for weeks. Bayrou, who was last part of a French government as education minister from 1993 to 1997, had been under pressure since 9 June, when he was included in a preliminary investigation into “embezzlement”. The case revolves around whether the parliamentary assistants of MoDem's MEPs, paid for by the European Parliament, were actually working full or part-time for the party. The other two MoDem ministers who resigned, along with Bayrou, also have assistants under investigation.

Bayrou has denied the allegations. He has declared that there “never was” any case of “fake” jobs within his party and that it would be “easy to prove”. All the same, by the time he resigned, his position as justice minister has become untenable, not least because he was tasked by Macron with developing key legislation on the “moralisation of politics”, one of the new President’s campaign pledges. On 1 June, Bayrou unveiled the new law, which plans a 10-year ban from public life for any politician convicted of a crime or offence regarding honesty and transparency in their work.

Bayrou described his decision to resign as a sacrifice. “My name was never pronounced, but I was the target to hit to attack the government’s credibility,” he said, declaring he would rather “protect this law” by stepping down. The other two ministers also refuted the allegations, and gave similar reasons for resigning. 

Macron’s movement-turned-unstoppable-machine, En Marche!, remains untainted from accusations of the sort. Their 350 new MPs are younger, more diverse than is usual in France – but they are newcomers in politics. Which is exactly why Macron had sought an alliance with experienced Bayrou in the first place.

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