Americans have repeatedly told pollsters about their exhaustion over partisan politics. Seven in 10 independents clamor for compromise over confrontation. Battle-scarred politicians, such as Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, who cultivate thicker skins than armadillos, have cited the toxic environment on the Hill as a reason for retiring. Amid the overheated rhetoric, apocalyptic warnings and well-financed attacks, however, are tales of political cooperation, both small and large. Here is one in a series.
Campaign ads have been one of the few freewheeling spends in a tough economy, with the presidential contest alone accounting for more than a half billion dollars to date. With a few weeks left in the election cycle, outlets like Politico are deciding on its top 25 unforgettable campaign ads.
Unforgettable, though, usually involves poking at the opponent: It's been nigh impossible to find a race in which candidates have promised not to attack one another. The closest high-profile pact has been the People's Pledge in the Massachusetts Senate race, in which Senator Scott Brown and challenger Elizabeth Warren agreed to pay up to a charity if a third-party tried to air attack ads. The agreement hasn't exactly stopped those candidates from spending big bucks to land their own body blows.
Still, there have been two standout videos when it comes to showcasing political cooperation.
Alaska and Hawaii wouldn't be the first time-share swap you'd think of, but states No. 49 and 50 have had a long political relationship that goes back to their territory days. Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and the late Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, called each another "brother," and Inouye delivered the final tribute at Steven's 2010 funeral.
Alaska Republican Congressman Don Young made jaws drop this summer when he sat next to Hawaii Democrat Mazie Hirono and taped an appeal to Hawaiians touting her qualifications to take the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Daniel Akaka.
"While Mazie and I don't see eye to eye on everything, we've done something too many people in Washington refuse to cross the aisle and do: We work together. ... Here's what's important, Hawaii: If you're looking for a United States Senator who doesn't just talk about bipartisanship, but actually knows how to work with both Republicans and Democrats to get things done, Mazie Hirono will be that senator."
Of course, not everyone thought this neighborly moment looked like a scene from "When Harry Met Sally." The RedState blog, already fuming over Republican Senator Coburn's endorsement of Democrat Senator Joe Manchin (plus a $250 donation to his campaign, to boot), declared Young's move "disgusting." Hawaii governor Linda Lingle, the unopposed Republican candidate for the Senate seat, delivered a slap to both Hirono and Young in a single press release:
It should be troubling to the people of Hawaii that Mazie Hirono's first attempt to convey any example of bipartisanship is a video advertisement with one of the House of Representative's most controversial members, who even Mazie's fellow Democrats have criticized on a range of ethics and spending issues. This is not the leadership Hawaii needs.
Young's camp released a statement assuring that the ad was for the Democratic primaries only, and the YouTube video (which did make Politico's Top 25) is now private. Neither Young's nor Hirono's campaign had any comments for Yahoo News on how it feels about the ad now. Hirono, though, did win her August primary, and the latest poll reveals a double-digit lead over Lingle. Now that's the ohana-ilagiit spirit.
We've Got This
Like ham and cheese on wry, Democrat Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie starred in one of the few political videos to go viral in 2012. Recorded (on the Republican's party dime) just a month after Booker ran into a burning house to pull out his neighbor, the "Seinfeld" riff featured the mayor pulling off heroic acts like fixing flats, saving a falling baby, and finding Bruce Springsteen a spare guitar, only to end with Christie picking up a much-anticipated call from Mitt Romney.
The high-profile politicos have their fair share of detractors, some of the loudest from their own party, but the 3:38 video, which first aired at the New Jersey Legislative Correspondents Club's annual dinner, got some bipartisan levity. The idea of bringing Booker in was entirely Christie's. Striking the Tebow pose after catching a plastic baby doll, though, was the inspiration of the mayor and former Stanford all-American tight end.
Camaraderie, of course, won't stand in the way of good politics. Booker, who had his moment on the national stage at the Democratic National Convention, has reportedly been considering a run to unseat his political frenemy. Christie—who had his moment at the Republican National Convention—has taken the threat in stride, calling out his "great personal relationship and professional relationship with Cory Booker ... for nearly a decade" and saying they'd continue to work well together.
But if Booker does run against Christie, it will probably put a damper on any chance of a sequel. Or maybe has the makings of a really juicy one. Meanwhile, some exclusive, behind-the-scenes shots of good times:
Let us know if you've seen a civil political ad this election season, in the comments below.