Ranking the Tough-Guy GOP Campaign Ads By Toughness

Getting ready to film your ad for your Republican candidacy for office? OK. You'll need three things: A camera, a gun, and a tough-guy attitude.

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Getting ready to film your ad for your Republican candidacy for office? OK. You'll need three things: A camera, a gun, and a tough-guy attitude.

To be fair, the gun is optional. The other parts are not. Toughness is en vogue because:

… and probably for other reasons. In response, Republicans are tough. Grab your gun, shoot-or-threaten-to-shoot something, and say, "I approve this message." Easy enough.

Below, a quick assortment of Republican campaign ads, ranked from most to least tough.

1. Will Brooke

State: Alabama
Position: U.S. House
Message: Obamacare is so bad and guns are so good that we must take our guns and shoot Obamacare.
Except that: Brooke's ad is a pretty blatant rip-off of the 2010 ad from Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, in which he shot the proposed cap-and-trade climate bill. But Brooke, to his credit, has a much larger armory than Manchin, eventually peppering his carefully crafted Obamacare-holder with rounds from his AR-15.

2. Matt Rosendale

State: Montana
Position: U.S. House
Message: The government is watching people with drones — maybe people in Montana — so Rosendale will shoot them down.
Except that: The government does patrol the borders with drones, sometimes, but it is almost certainly illegal to shoot them down. And an arrest like that would be bad for your campaign.

3. Todd Staples

State: Texas
Position: Lieutenant governor
Message: Obama is not a king, and Staples will fight him off for acting like a king, using guns.
Except that: Staples probably couldn't defeat Obama with one shotgun; Obama has a literal army at his disposal. (And there are other problems, that we've written about before.)
Campaign results: Came in third in the March primary.

4. Joni Ernst

State: Iowa
Position: Senate
Message: Ernst grew up castrating pigs, and she will apply that knowledge to cutting the budget, which some people refer to as "pork."
Except that: This is best considered as a metaphor and not a literal transliteration of skills. And, while it's certainly an evocative image, it's not as tough as the preceding contestants.
Campaign results: She's leading in the polls.

5. Bob Quast

State: Iowa
Position: Senate
Message: Quast will shoot you in the testicles if you are the sexual predator who murdered his sister, he says with a smile. Then he reloads his Glock.
Except that: I mean, this is so grim. What do you say to that?
Campaign results: He is not leading in the polls.

6. Tom Cotton

State: Arkansas
Position: Senate
Message: Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor suggested that Cotton feels "entitled" to his position due to his military background. Cotton's former drill sergeant disagrees.
Except that: This doesn't come off as tough as it might sound. Cotton and the drill sergeant seem rather lackadaisical about the whole thing.
Campaign results: Cotton and Pryor are neck-and-neck.

7. Beau McCoy

State: Nebraska
Position: Governor
Message: Obama wanted to expand Obamacare in Nebraska, and McCoy stood up to him, much as McCoy stood up to a Obama bobblehead.
Except that: Obama didn't really want "more Obamacare in Nebraska." McCoy opposed the expansion of Medicaid in the state, as did the current governor.
Campaign results: Hasn't happened yet, but McCoy isn't polling well.

Honorable mentions

We must give special recognition to Republicans who found other ways to demonstrate their toughness. One big trend is to give away guns in campaign-donation raffles, as Mother Jones wrote last week. The magazine found 13 candidates this cycle alone who were offering guns to a lucky donor.

And then there's this guy, Rep. Steve Hurst, who gets bonus points simply for his good old-fashioned down-home demonstration of toughness.

The moral of this particular story: Be creative.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.