This post has been updated.
The Republican National Committee is pushing back against all the 2016 buzz Hillary Clinton is getting, courtesy of her book tour with their own campaign. It involves a giant squirrel costume. The squirrel was first spotted — like its friend the fox — near the National Mall, wandering around outside a Hillary Clinton event at George Washington University. It was handing out "Another Clinton in the White House is NUTS" bumper stickers.
Long line to get into HRC's book tour event at GWU. Lots of students, Ready For Hillary and.... The GOP squirrel pic.twitter.com/G3vMKxUYAp— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) June 13, 2014
The giant squirrel — in truth, it is just an RNC intern named Justin — has its own Twitter feed.
When a Daily Beast reporter asked the RNC's deputy press secretary about the squirrel, he didn't have much to offer, saying a name for the squirrel was TBD. “I actually don’t know his last name," the press secretary said of the intern. "He volunteered to be in the suit.”
And now, the squirrel is even the star of its very own ad.
Why a squirrel? Well, there's the whole "nuts" angle — the bumper stickers and t-shirts that bear the RNC's slogan feature an acorn where the "u" in "nuts" should be.
In the end, they may be simply trying to copy the effective diversionary tactics last seen in Pixar's "Up."
This isn't the first time a person in an animal suit has followed around a potential presidential candidate. In 2011, Flipper, a giant dolphin carrying around a pair of flip-flops, chased the Mitt Romney campaign.
Washington Post reporter Amy Gardner described the scene at an event in Concord, N.H. in October 2011.
Matt Landers, a young member of Romney’s New Hampshire campaign staff, covered Flipper man-to-man like he was playing in the Final Four. Landers blocked Flipper with a well-placed two-foot-by-three-foot Romney campaign sign so that none of Flipper’s cute-and-fuzzy face could make it onto the evening news.
Flipper, who declined to give his real name or who is paying him, wasn’t exactly energized. Following Romney out to his SUV after a rally in front fo the Capitol, the costumed bird-dogger offered an occasional and half-hearted “Mitt Flip” or “Mitt Flop," but he was so hard to hear that most of the camera crews paid him no attention at all.
For more than a week now, at his campaign appearances, Mr. Bush has faced hecklers costumed as giant chickens, bearing signs that mock the Republican candidate for his refusals, until now, to debate Bill Clinton.
This is also not the first time that animals have been deployed in attack ads. The ad that Carly Fiorina ran during the 2010 Republican senate primary in California is probably the most famous.
In fact, there may be some arcane California rule that prohibits Republicans to campaign against longtime Democratic incumbents without featuring a sheep in at least one ad.
Herman Cain is also a master of the weirdly terrifying animal campaign ad.
Some politicians prefer to hire people to act like animals without costumes.
While others like to talk to their animals.
It may be prudent to point out that most of these campaigns were unsuccessful.
Although Republicans seem to prefer the animal campaign ad, sometimes Democrats hire people to dress up in costumes too.
The animal campaign isn't a new genre either. Even Reagan did it!
Given President Obama's current habit of yelling "the bear is loose," maybe it won't be the last bear ad either.