The 2012 presidential campaign had its ups and downs for both candidates. In the midst of it all, there were a few strange, entertaining moments that will take a while to fade from memory.
The empty chair
Expectations are typically high for an acclaimed actor and Oscar-winning movie director. Clint Eastwood fell short of meeting the expectations of many prominent figures from both political parties when he delivered a rambling speech to an empty chair at the Republican National Convention in August in Tampa. Famed film critic Roger Ebert lamented on Twitter that his “hero” appeared “sad and pathetic” as Eastwood gave his speech to an invisible Barack Obama. Conservative political commentator Joe Scarborough said Eastwood’s monologue diverted attention from “a great night for Mitt Romney.”
Odd celebrity endorsements
Child reality TV star Honey Boo Boo came out in support of President Barack Obama on Jimmy Kimmel Live in October. That was after Kimmel told her that former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he prefers Jersey Shore star Snooki.
About a week earlier, troubled actress Lindsay Lohan told E! News she supported Romney, because employment is important. E! News later reported that Lohan’s voter registration was out-of-date, because it did not reflect her current address.
‘The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium’
This spoof of a presidential debate between left-leaning comedian Jon Stewart and conservative talking head Bill O’Reilly in October gave Americans some much-needed comic relief at the height of election season. The two exchanged a few feisty one-liners that garnered laughter as they sparred about George W. Bush and government-provided social programs. But this meeting of the political minds also yielded the priceless image of Stewart sitting on O’Reilly’s lap, prompting O’Reilly to ask, “And what would you like for Christmas, little boy?”
The Big Bird blow-up
If there’s one lesson the 2012 campaign taught Americans, it’s that anything — including a Sesame Street character — can be politicized. Mitt Romney said during the first debate that he loves Big Bird, but not enough to borrow money from China to pay for subsidies to public broadcasting. In response, the Obama campaign developed an attack ad poking fun of Romney’s desire to end funding for Big Bird. “Mitt Romney knows it’s not Wall Street you have to worry about. It’s Sesame Street,” the narrator said. Sesame Workshop, in an effort to remain non-partisan, requested that the Obama campaign pull the ad.
The Paul Ryan phenomenon
The former Republican vice presidential candidate is known in the U.S. House of Representatives for his diligent work ethic and sharp intellect. During the election season, however, Ryan’s buff physique also caught the public’s attention. Ryan’s grueling P90X workout routine became the fodder of numerous news articles after Romney announced him as his running mate. Ryan memes, many with sexual overtones, flooded the Internet — and let’s not forget the parody Twitter account, @PaulRyanGosling.
Free ponies for all
Vermin Supreme takes the cake for the most interesting campaign platform. The 62-year-old one-time presidential candidate advocated mandatory toothbrush laws, zombie preparedness and a free pony for all Americans in an interview with The Daily Collegian earlier this year. He also attended both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions (he’s an anarchist) while wearing a rubber boot on his head. Enough said.
Collegian metro chief Lynn Ondrusek and the Associated Press contributed to this report.