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we need an ice cream
and other things overheard on a candidate's tour bus
by tracey l. kelley (@TraceyLKelley)

ADVISOR 1: "We have to watch out for that clean candidate. Clean is big in the Midwest. We need to promote how clean we are. What speaks clean? Should the candidate wear all white from now on?"

ADVISOR 2: "Maybe we can have the candidate carry a broom –- you know, sweeping this nation clean."

ADVISOR 1: "That’s been done. Clooney did that."

ADVISOR 2: "That’s right. Damn."

INTERN: "Well, technically, that was just a scene from a movie by the Coen –-"

ADVISOR 1: "What about prison? The candidate could make a clean break from prison. It’s not quite the impact of five years in a P.O.W. camp, but it’s suspenseful."

ADVISOR 2: "I think we need to appeal to the 18-24 crowd –- what if we pair up the candidate with Danny Bonaduce? The irreverence! The drugs! The button-down suits vs. the tight black jeans and goth jewelry! Buddy comedy GOLD!"

ADVISOR 1: "I know, I know -– we can have Danny ask the candidate for sex! And then hold a press conference discussing all the reasons why the candidate refused him! Think of the coverage!"

ADVISOR 2: "Cronin at VH1 owes us big time for flipping Florence Henderson. Otherwise, they never would have nailed the 55-74 demo."

INTERN: "Actually, many people who watch that kind of reality television aren’t really vot --"

ADVISOR 1: "And another thing -- I don’t like the fact that we lost a major supporter to another other candidate. Instead of asking for an apology, I say we have him shot."

ADVISOR 2: "Well, it would have to be a suicide to the back of the head, like the one guy that one time, or Hannity will hound us."

ADVISOR 1: "The Fox and the Hound! God, I loved that movie. We should work that into the soundbites somehow...you know, 'You may have Fox but we are hounding this issue...'"

ADVISOR 2: "We need an ice cream named after us. Ice cream is big in the South."

ADVISOR 1: "Yeah, but what kind? If it’s not the right kind of chocolate, we lose the African-American vote. If it’s too vanilla, California and New York voters will stay home. If we add marshmallow, we’ve lost Florida. And Texas will never go for anything with strawberries. I think we need a committee on this."

ADVISOR 2: "Yeah, but if we flavor it with macadamia nuts, we’ve locked in Hawaii."

ADVISOR 1: sniffs "Hawaii. Right. Next you’ll saying Alabama counts. Or Montana. Please. Don’t add whip to my espresso. You and I both know the only voters that matter live in New York, California, and Florida. Everything else is just filler."

ADVISOR 2: "Especially Iowa. God, I hate Iowa."

ADVISOR 1: "I hate everything west of I-95. Once you leave NYC and the Beltway, it’s nothing but rednecks as far as the eye can see."

ADVISOR 2: "Except Warren Buffett."

ADVISOR 1: "Yeah. Except Buffett."

ADVISOR 2: "Buffett RULES!"

INTERN: "I think we ought to consider how to address health care ref –-"

ADVISOR 1: "Are we okay with our song?"

ADVISOR 2: "Oh, I don’t know. It’s only good marketing to have a theme song that two percent of our voters can identify with, a melody that drives them to the polls. But I’m not happy with what we’ve used so far."

ADVISOR 1: "And the wrong one could kick us. Kick us real hard."

ADVISOR 2: "That one candidate mixes it up –- uses old R&B love songs. And that other candidate from last time used Elvis."

ADVISOR 1: "YEAH!" swings fist

ADVISOR 2: "Maybe we should demonstrate original thinking by having someone write a song for us, 'American Idol' style."

ADVISOR 1: "Right! And as America votes for the song they like best, we’ll gather the preliminary results and use those to intimidate the competition before caucuses!"

ADVISOR 2: "The more I roll this around, the more I like it. The voters really want a song that speaks for them, communicates their hopes and dreams."

INTERN: "I’m going to surgically remove my frontal lobe with a spork. Would anyone else like -–"

ADVISOR 1: "The candidate could sing it before every event!"

ADVISOR 2: "Uh, I don’t think that’s such a good idea."

ADVISOR 1: "Come on, voters want to see their candidates as real people. Singing unites a crowd, shows patriotism. Patriotism is big in Ohio."

ADVISOR 2: "I think just talking about bad childhoods and firing household help is enough 'realism' for the public. I mean, everyone can relate to not having enough recreational barn space for the second shift of the cleaning staff. And remember, singing doesn’t bring the troops home."

ADVISOR 1: "Right, you’re right. And singing won’t hide the fact that we’ll never be able to recover those millions of dollars in cash we flew to Iran."

ADVISOR 2: "Iran? You mean Korea."

ADVISOR 1: "Did I say Iran? I meant China. Or Iraq. Somewhere over there." waves hand

ADVISOR 2: "Alright, I’ve been avoiding this, but here it goes: what do we do with the spouse?"

ADVISOR 1: "Shitsu and shetland show, all the way. Voters love it when the spouse stands next to the candidate, obviously supportive, but having no real value. We communicate family values without getting all Dobson about it."

ADVISOR 2: "But already there have been rumblings about how much face time to give the spouse."

ADVISOR 1: "Just keep it on the Rourke level –- smiles, everyone, smiles!"

ADVISOR 2: "Maybe the spouse should wear white."

ADVISOR 1: "Ah, well, you know, voters like clean. We should stage a focus group to look into that."

ADVISOR 2: "Clean is big in the Midwest."


Tracey likes to shake things up and then take the lid off. She also likes to keep the peace, especially in a safe, fuzzy place. Writer, editor, producer, yogini, ('cause yoger or yogor simply doesn't work) by day, rabid WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething! player by night. You can follow her on Twitter: @traceylkelley or @tkyogaforyou

more about tracey l. kelley


begging for horses
and other wishes i’d like
by tracey l. kelley
topic: humor
published: 3.30.07

it’s not easy being green
the honorable task of supporting the environment
by tracey l. kelley
topic: humor
published: 7.28.08


lisa r
2.26.07 @ 8:56a

The fact that this column is actually timely with the presidential election still almost 2 years away scares me, even while I'm laughing at what no doubt are actual candidate marketing ideas. No wonder the best people for the job stay away from it. You can't have common sense and survive being surrounded by political advisors.


russ carr
2.26.07 @ 1:14p

You can't have common sense and survive being surrounded by political advisors.

Which goes a long way toward explaining why good candidates, filled with every noble intent, turn into typical politicians once they're in office.

alex b
2.26.07 @ 1:59p

Good grief. That really exists.

dave lentell
2.26.07 @ 3:07p

It would be funny, if it weren't true.

I know this sounds dumb, but were you really on the bus? Or just making this up? I assume making it up, but I have actually been in a room where people talk like this. So I thought I'd just check to be sure.

: )

robert melos
2.26.07 @ 10:50p

Sadly the majority of Americans don't get beyond the theme songs, and hair styles. John Kerry had to go hunting to win over hunters and the NRA. The man is no more of a hunter than I am. Truthfully George W. Bush isn't a hunter either, unless he was hunting coke. Unfortunately a candidate who didn't pander to the lowest common denominators wouldn't win, even if the candidate were more qualified in every aspect of the job.

What we have to remember is, it is a JOB, we're not electing a king in spite of how George W. has acted. We're putting someone into a job to help, and I stress HELP, run the country. I'm beginning to think we don't need a President as much as we do a council. A group of 5 to 7 people to debate issues and run things based on a majority of council members decisions.

I want marshmallows and strawberries and nuts in my ice cream.

tracey kelley
2.27.07 @ 9:35a

Oh boy. Someone e-mailed to say they thought I was ripping on Dems.

No, althought the Dems have been the ones in the news more recently. I have fun ripping on everyone.

I like the council idea, but am afraid then we'd have to choose the 7 people to put on the council, and would have more of the same.

I doubt we'll ever have it perfect. After all, the what should advisors think when people freak out over American Idol and the like? 12 smart people in a room telling them what we really want can't sway the "power" of 500,000 demonstrating otherwise.

Dave - I'll never tell, but I will say you of all people know my connections. :D

lisa r
2.28.07 @ 11:04p

Headline seen today: "Mitt Romney's Advisors Unhappy With Hair".

And some folks probably thought Tracey made this stuff up!

tracey kelley
3.12.07 @ 9:18a

Note also that since announcing his run for President, Obama has

-quit smoking. (publically, anyway)
-paid his 15-YEAR-OLD PARKING TICKETS from college or grad school or whatever.

alex b
3.14.07 @ 5:31a

I can only imagine what Obama's advisers have to say on HIS bus... especially with what his ice cream flavor would be.

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