With fewer than three weeks left to go ahead of the US midterm elections, candidates are redoubling their efforts to reach voters -- even relying on memes and sex tapes to make their cases, as evidenced by these offbeat stories from the campaign trail this week.
Swifties run for Senate
Several candidates had the same idea Friday when they attempted to win cool points by capitalizing off the release of Taylor Swift's new album "Midnights."
Ohio Senate candidate Tim Ryan, Pennsylvania governor hopeful Josh Shapiro and New York Congressman Jamaal Bowman posted the album cover template on social media, subbing in their own pictures for the mega-star's and inserting their policy platforms where the tracking listings appear on the original.
And Senator Mark Warner asked Thursday on Twitter "I wonder if one of @taylorswift13's tracks tonight will be about data privacy ... that's certainly an issue that keeps me up at midnight."
The singer, who has sometimes called herself "Miss Americana," offered her own opinion on the state of US politics in a lyric from the "Midnights" song "Anti-Hero": "Did you hear my covert narcissism lightly disguised as altruism like some kind of congressman?"
John Fetterman, the 6-foot-8-inch tall, tattooed, hoodie-wearing Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, recently created the Fettermemes -- a site dedicated to memes intended to humorously ridicule his Republican opponent Mehmet Oz.
The platform functions as a library of sorts, archiving videos of the TV star surgeon divided into categories such as "Bad Policies," "Scam," "Weird," "Out of Touch" -- and one simply called "LOL."
Under each section are stored a compilation of clips of Oz in television interviews, hosting his own show, speaking at events and even dancing and eating a piece of watermelon.
Website visitors can download and use the videos -- or photos also linked on the page -- to create their own memes.
Campaign sex tape
Mike Itkis, an independent running for Congress in New York's 12th district, generated buzz after posting a censored sex tape in an effort to show his "sex-positive approach."
His campaign platform includes a call to "Make sexual rights explicit -– do NOT rely on privacy or free speech rights."
The US army reserve officer stars alongside adult video star Nicole Sage in a 13-minute video called "Bucket List Bonanza," published to a popular pornography site.
Itkis' website also proclaims he is "Not married. No kids. Not celibate. Atheist." and lists his campaign platforms on sexuality in a less graphic manner, including the legalization of sex work and "to redefine abortion debate as a right to unplanned sex."
'Missy Elliott Day'
In Virginia, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin declared October 17 as a special state holiday dedicated to rapper Missy Elliott.
The rapper, best known for her early-2000s songs such as "Work It" and "Get Ur Freak On," is originally from the town of Portsmouth in the eastern US state.
"As a native Virginian, she has inspired young women in the Commonwealth and beyond to pursue careers in the arts and music," Youngkin said on Twitter. "She is the American dream!"
© 2022 AFP