From the moment “Tom Campbell“‘s eyes glowed red in Carly Fiorina’s “Demon Sheep” ad, we knew this campaign season was going to be chock-full of bizarre and memorable memes. And we were right — sheep, witches, and chickens were just a few of the iconic moments from the 2010 midterm elections.
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So here are TPM’s favorites…
- California Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina’s “Demon Sheep” video in February was an early standout in a campaign season with some real showstoppers. The ad attacked Fiorina’s Republican primary opponent Tom Campbell as a “FCINO” — a “fiscal conservative in name only” — or as the ad put it, “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” That is, a man dressed as a wolf in sheep’s clothing with glowing red eyes.
- Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden lost the primary to Republican Sharron Angle, but she will forever be remembered for suggesting in April that people “barter with your doctor” to pay for health care, and then doubling down after the resulting kerfuffle: “You know, before we all started having health care, in the olden days, our grandparents, they would bring a chicken to the doctor.” Chickens for checkups!
- John McCain (R-AZ) was facing a heated primary against J.D. Hayworth, complete with pointed attacks on his previous support for immigration reform. So McCain put out an ad touting his dedication to border security, and his commitment to “complete the danged fence.”
- When Alvin Greene somehow managed to beat Vic Rawl in the Democratic primary for Senate in South Carolina, not very much was known about him. And after he gave a series of bizarre and awkward interviews following his win in June…still not very much was known about him.
- Republican Senate candidate Linda McMahon’s opponents have found a lot to mock in her past as the CEO of the WWE. And her Connecticut primary opponent Peter Schiff didn’t pass up the opportunity, cutting a web video in July that said “liberal Linda McMahon has kicked Republicans for years,” and repeatedly shows a clip of McMahon kicking a man in the groin.
- In the first (and apparently last) Arizona gubernatorial debate in September, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) got a little speechless when giving her opening statement. She then got a lot speechless in a press conference afterward when asked about her erroneous claim that undocumented immigrants beheaded people in her state.
- A meme that emerged among female candidates this year was telling their male opponents to “man up.” Christine O’Donnell told her primary opponent Rep. Mike Castle in September “that this is not a bake-off, get your man-pants on.” Sharron Angle told Sen. Harry Reid to “man up” in an October debate. And Democrat Robin Carnahan told Roy Blunt to “man up” and repeal his own health care. Not to be outdone, Harry Reid’s campaign told Angle to “man up and apologize” to Hispanic students she offended “both for telling them they look ‘Asian’ and for lying to them by saying her ads featuring nefarious images of Latino men were about Canada.”
- In August, a woman told GQ that during her years at the same college as Rand Paul, he had kidnapped her, tried to force her to take bong hits, and made her kneel in a creek and pray to “Aqua Buddha.” For a long time, Paul wouldn’t even address the story, writing it off as a vaguely sourced tall tale, until his Democratic opponent Jack Conway released an ad referencing the story and questioning Paul’s Christian faith. Things came to a heated head at their first debate in October.
- New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino was always known for his fiery temper, even touting “I’m mad as hell” as his campaign slogan. But in September he exceeded everyone’s expectations when he nearly came to blows with New York Post state editor Fred Dicker over Paladino’s out-of-wedlock daughter, whom Paladino accused Dicker of sending photographers after. “You send another goon to my daughter’s house, and I’ll take you out, buddy!” Paladino yelled.
- Christine O’Donnell is known for her rather bizarre statements on 90s TV shows, like when she said on MTV that “the Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can’t masturbate without lust.” Or when she admitted on Bill Maher’s show that she “dabbled into witchcraft.” But perhaps what she’ll be remembered for most is her attempt to combat the media feeding frenzy over her remarks. Even O’Donnell admitted that her “I am not a witch, I’m you” ad was a mistake.
- Ohio Congressional candidate Rich Iott (R) likes to spend his free time dressing up as a member of the 5th SS Wiking Panzer Division, a group of Ohio World War II reenactors. Even better was his defense of that particular group of Nazis: “They were doing what they thought was right.”
- Everyone knew Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller didn’t like the press when he said he would no longer answer questions about his past. But things were taken to the next level at an October town hall, when the Republican’s private security team detained and handcuffed Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger, after he tried repeatedly to interview and video Miller about his ethics violation during his time at the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
- In what might be called the “stomp” heard ‘round the world, a group of Rand Paul supporters pulled a MoveOn.org member to the ground as Paul and Jack Conway were arriving for a debate, and one of them stomped on her head. At first, Paul himself wouldn’t go so far as to condemn the attack, instead saying: “It’s an unusual situation to have so many people, so passionate on both sides, jockeying back and forth and it wasn’t something I liked or anybody liked about that situation. So I hope in the future it’s going to be better.”
- Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle has become known for going out of her way to dodge the press, much like other Tea Party backed candidates who find that the media tends to catch them saying stuff that damages their campaign. In what is perhaps the natural consequence of such an aversion to reporters, Angle used a decoy to avoid the press at an event last week. At least Stephen Colbert was impressed. “Bravo Miss Angle,” he said as he put up a picture of Saddam Hussein. “It has been a while since we’ve had a strong leader from a desert land who uses decoys.”
Who’s ready for 2012?