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Think Tank

Santorum Ad Slips Obama's Face Into Ahmadinejad Montage

What is the Big Idea?

A new ad released by Rick Santorum’s campaign team inserted President Obama’s face for a split-second into a montage about Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The controversial ad, Obamaville, imagines a future in which Obama is reelected, with a narrator describing a world where “everyday, the residents of this town must come to grips with the harsh reality that a world nation and sworn american enemy has become a nuclear threat.”

Here is the ad:




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What is the Significance?

Did you see it? It was about 40 seconds in. The Obama/Ahmadinejad intercut was first spotted by Dylan Byers from Politico, who later spoke to Rick Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley about it.

Q: Is the moment when Ahmadenijad and Obama's images are interspersed meant to suggest that they are the same person?

Gidley: Don't be ridiculous. He's the president of the United States, Ahmadenijad is the president of our sworn enemy. I'm don't know that it was 'interspersing,' I'm confused by that. Obviously I'm not trying to say anything about Obama and Ahamdenijad. So if we're not trying to say anything about that, then I don't understand the issue.

I think everybody knows -- our party and Rick has been very adamant and open and vocal about the fact that Barack Obama has been absolutely leading from behind as relates to Iran. He's the leader that deals with rogue nations, and Rick doesn't feel like that's something he should do. But, you know, the whole ad is based around the fact that, in two more years, this is what the country is going to look like.

Q: What is the country going to look like in two years?

Gidley: That's what the whole ad is saying: If we continue on the track we're continuing down, this country is going to be in a whole lot more trouble than it was in the first four years of his administration.

Q: And there's no suggestion here that Obama is Ahmadinehad?

Gidley: No, no, no, no, no. We'd be a lot more deliberate if that's what we were trying to do. There'd be something a whole lot more -- Rick doesn't parse words, our campaign, we're not sneaky people. We'd tell you what we think, obviously. That's not what we're trying to do.

Sneaky or not, people on Twitter hate it. @thesadredearth called it Santorum's "fear mongering new video" and @sherijr called Santorum a "nasty little creep."

Rick Hoesktra released and retracted a similar campaign ad in February that was criticized by both Democrats and Republicans. The ad slammed incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow’s foreign economic policies and depicts a young Asian woman with a rice paddy hat, riding a bike in what is suppose to be rural China while speaking in broken English. The Twitterverse rejected the ad, saying it was a racist attack, while experts who spoke to Big Think said it was an attempt at fostering a public fear of foreigners and globalization.

What do you think of the ad and other ads like it? Do you think they are xenophobic or are they making a fair comparison about Obama's foreign policies? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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