What a long, strange campaign season it’s been.
From cocaine monkeys to skinny dipping to dancing insurance executives, candidates have been using frantic, creative and downright odd pitches.
With Election Day just over a week away, here’s a trip down memory lane with some of the strangest political ads of 2014.
“Squeal” — Iowa GOP Senate nominee Joni Ernst
State Sen. Joni Ernst was in a tough primary fight back in March when she launched this ad to set her apart from the GOP field.
With words never uttered in a campaign ad before — “I grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm, so when I get to Washington, I’ll know how to cut pork” — the spot became an Internet sensation.
The offbeat ad ended up being one of the most effective of the cycle, and is largely credited by both sides with helping her rise in the polls. In the race’s closing days, she returned to the pigpen to tell voters Washington is full of “too many typical politicians, hogging, wasting and full of ... well, let’s just say, bad ideas.”
The memorable spots are a big reason Ernst is on the cusp of pulling an upset over Iowa Rep. Bruce BraleyBruce Lowell BraleyThe Memo: Trump attacks on Harris risk backfiring 2020 caucuses pose biggest challenge yet for Iowa's top pollster OPINION | Tax reform, not Trump-McConnell feuds, will make 2018 a win for GOP MORE (D) in a contest that is pivotal to Senate control.
“Bruce Braley’s Chicken Dance” — Chamber of Commerce against Iowa Democratic Senate nominee Bruce Braley
If hogs boosted Ernst, it might be chickens and farmers that are Braley’s undoing. The Democratic congressman stumbled early on in the Iowa Senate race after he was caught on tape disparaging would-be Judiciary Committee chairman, Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley announces reelection bid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (R), as a “farmer from Iowa who never went to law school.”
Braley, a trial lawyer, also was forced to explain a dispute he had with a neighbor over her therapeutic chickens that kept crossing into his yard.
On Thursday, the normally straight-laced U.S. Chamber of Commerce tried to remind voters of those missteps by suggesting he’s dancing around those issues.
“Gator” — Louisiana Republican Senate candidate Rob Maness
Also in the “odd use of animals” genre, Tea Party hopeful Rob Maness highlighted one of Louisiana’s most feared creatures in his first ad.
“Here in Louisiana, you learn to be tough. One moment of weakness, and the alligators could eat you alive,” Maness says. In between gator chomps and footage of him at a shooting range, the candidate talks of how he would cut spending and repeal ObamaCare.
“Louisiana needs a senator who will stand up to the career politicians — and the alligators,” the retired Air Force colonel says as he ties up the snout of a gator.
The spot got buzz for Maness, but in the end likely won’t be enough to boost him over GOP establishment favorite Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in the race to unseat Sen. Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth MORE (D-La.).
“Outrageous” — National Republican Congressional Committee against Rep. John BarrowJohn Jenkins BarrowOn The Trail: The political losers of 2020 Republican wins Georgia secretary of state runoff to replace Kemp The most important runoff election is one you probably never heard of MORE (D-Ga.)
The GOP’s been trying for years to defeat Blue Dog Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), who always has top-notch campaign ads himself. This year, they hoped a monkey high on cocaine could do the trick.
In an ad intended to highlight the Barrow’s 85 percent voting record with President Obama, a woman with a monkey on her shoulder details how "$820,000 of our tax dollars were spent studying how monkeys respond to unfairness and how they act while on cocaine. Think about that — that's how outrageous the spending in Washington has gotten. Yet it's so common that half the time we don't even notice.”
The unusual ad might not be enough to help GOP nominee Rick Allen take down the five-term incumbent. Still, the race could be Barrow’s closest yet thanks to the drag that Obama has in the red district.
“Stitches” — Minnesota GOP Senate nominee Mike McFadden
If you’re a wealthy businessman who needs to soften your image, what’s one way to do it? Show how cheap you really are!
Candidates touting their thriftiness has been a trend on the airwaves this year, but Minnesota Republican Mike McFadden had perhaps the most cringeworthy illustration of frugality.
“When I was 10, and had to get stitches out after a hockey injury, the nurse said it would cost $100. Dad was so horrified he grabbed the scissors and took them out himself,” his son, Conor McFadden, says.
“You lived,” the elder McFadden scoffs. Pointing to the incident, his son says “nothing will stop dad from trying to take out ObamaCare.”
The pain-induced remembrance likely won’t be enough to lift McFadden over Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame MORE (D).
“Dance Party” — Minnesota’s 2nd District nominee Mike Obermueller (D)
Democratic hopeful Mike Obermueller found a rather odd way to highlight his opponent, Rep. John Kline’s (R) efforts to repeal ObamaCare and subsequent support for the government shutdown — DANCE PAR-TAY!
“For insurance executives, John Kline is music to their ears. Because if Congress repeals ObamaCare, insurance companies will go back to charging whatever they want,” he says. The ad shows men in suits dancing around an office, popping open champagne and hopping on tables.
The same celebration likely won’t extend for Obermuller’s chances, as he’s a heavy underdog against Kline.
“Naked Truth” — Kansas’s 3rd District nominee Kelly Kultala (D)
Democrat Kelly Kultala, who is running a long-shot campaign against Rep. Kevin YoderKevin Wayne YoderBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R), brings up allegations that the congressman went skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee during a 2012 official trip.
People without clothing and strategically placed objects weigh in. "The naked truth is Yoder voted to cut Medicare for seniors,” says one person in the ad, while another says he “stripped education funding for Kansas schools.”
“Yoder lines the pockets of his millionaire donors with big tax cuts, and they line his, when he has pockets,” the ad ends, showing someone appearing to be Yoder with some creative blocking over his private areas.
“When the Moment is Right” — Ohio Republican candidate J.D. Winteregg
There’s long been snickering in Washington about Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying world A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE’s (R-Ohio) last name, but his Tea Party challenger took the insinuations to a new level in an ad this spring.
J.D. Winteregg’s minute-long spot is a play on the ads for erectile dysfunction drugs that play frequently on television.
“Other signs of electile dysfunction may include extreme skin discoloration, the inability to punch oneself out of a wet paper bag, or maintain a spine in the face of liberal opposition…..If you have a BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying world A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE lasting longer than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention,” the narrator says.
The ad wasn’t the right medicine for Winteregg — not only did the Speaker defeat him by nearly than 60 points, the Tea Party hopeful lost his job at a small Christian college over the ad.