“It’s morning again in America,” the ad begins with shots of a harbor, busy city street and serene suburban neighborhood. “Today, more men and women are out of work than ever before in our nation’s history.”
The tone is a much darker one, yes. But Rubio has incorporated another element absent from Reagan’s spot: a tribute to America’s Liberal Party-run neighbor to the north.
As several discerning Canucks have pointed out, the opening shot of Rubio’s American morning is not American at all. It’s Canadian.
The first few seconds of the ad feature a tugboat moving across a serene harbor at dusk. The skyline in the background, however, is not one that can be found on this side of the border. It belongs instead to Vancouver.
“It’s unmistakably Vancouver,” the Vancouver Sun reported Monday, pointing out the presence of city landmarks such as the Harbour Centre tower and the cranes of Port Metro Vancouver.
The tugboat even appears to be sporting a small Canadian flag.
According to the CBC, the stock footage was shot by Vancouver-based videographer Guy Chavasse, who said he filmed it in August from a northern Vancouver viewing tower.
“It’s pretty funny, isn’t it?” he told the CBC. “It’s a good-looking video, no doubt, but it’s pretty recognizable as Vancouver.” As a freelancer for stock photo and video sites, Chavasse doesn’t usually get to see where his work ends up, and this gave him a “good laugh.”
“I’m not exactly a big Republican fan or a Rubio supporter,” he said, but he noted that “it’s always cool to see your stuff being used.” He thinks the campaign probably paid about $80 for the clip.
A Rubio spokesman told BuzzFeed News that the selection’s national origin was unintentional.
“Ha! Nice catch by BuzzFeed — we hadn’t noticed that,” he said. “We are not going to make Canada an issue in this election.”
So far, there’s no sign of the ad being pulled, as the campaign for Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas pulled an ad last week after discovering that a soft-core porn actress had been cast in it.
Of course, one GOP candidate is already making the land of hockey fanatics and long winters something of an issue — and another candidate held Canadian citizenship less than two years ago.
As Donald Trump has refused to let voters forget, Cruz was born in Calgary to a Cuban father and an American mother. His eligibility for the presidency, which is granted only to “natural born citizens,” has been the subject of some controversy.
In an interview with The Washington Post last month, Trump called Cruz’s birthplace “very precarious.”
“Do we want a candidate who could be tied up in court for two years? That’d be a big problem,” he said.
Neither Cruz’s Canadian connection nor Trump’s preoccupation with it has hurt them in the polls so far. (Somewhere out there, Cruz is thanking God that the ad isn’t his.) The two candidates won the Republican primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively.
Rubio, meanwhile, came third in Iowa and lost momentum in New Hampshire after a robotic debate performance. Could this latest ad be his attempt to get a piece of the Canadian pie?
As far as conservative politics goes, Canada may not be the best facsimile. Its new prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has pledged to take in thousands of Syrian refugees and raise taxes on the wealthy — promises that helped him score a handy victory against his conservative opponent and incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Trudeau is a liberal scion to boot: His late father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, decriminalized homosexuality, legalized abortion and vehemently defended universal health care.
But perhaps the Vancouver footage is Rubio’s veiled attempt to point out how much the United States has changed under the current Democratic administration. So much so, apparently, that it’s become a different country altogether.