GOP hopefuls, time to know your sports
Dear Remaining GOP Presidential Hopefuls,
I am reaching out to you after your performance at Saturday's night's ABC debate, which revealed just how out of touch you are with the American people. No, I am not speaking of your policy positions, on which I am not here to comment, but instead on your answers to the evening's final question:
Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos: "It's Saturday night, so if you weren't here running for president, what would you be doing on this Saturday night?"
Newt Gingrich: "I'd be watching the college championship basketball."
Rick Santorum to Gingrich: "Football."
Gingrich: "I mean, football game."
Santorum: "I'd be doing the same thing with my family. We'd be huddled around and we would be watching the championship game."
Mitt Romney: "I'm afraid it's football. I love it."
Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum, you are in no way football fans if you thought the BCS championship was this past Saturday night. Just be grateful you weren't asked for a prediction. As for you, Mr. Romney, even if we give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were referring to the NFC wild-card game, which ironically was being played opposite your debate, don't apologize for an interest in sports.
Gaffes in the intense arena of presidential politics are commonplace, but there is no gaffe more susceptible to ridicule than a sports one. This is precisely why you need to hire me as your Sports Gaffe Prevention Specialist.
Sports are the largest part of the American pop culture zeitgeist. The NFL is as popular as ever, having drawn in a massive number of new fans in the past 10 years. The NBA is experiencing a rebirth and many of your constituents are diehard fans of the NHL, NASCAR and PGA Tour. These sports are all in season and most will continue throughout the rest of the primaries. That means a lot of voters will forgive you if you opt to watch the Celtics take on the Lakers on a Saturday night instead of playing "Name That Milton Friedman Quote."
I am not sure when sports exited the GOP playbook, but it must return. Why? Because it's no coincidence our past four commander-in-chiefs have been known sports fans and people "you want to have a beer with." Americans love sports and want their leaders to love them, too.
You are not the first (or the last) to fail your sports litmus tests. John Kerry, while stumping in Green Bay in 2004, called the Packers' holy stadium "Lambert Field" instead of Lambeau. The "Lambert" gaffe was used time and time again to try to showcase how out of touch he was. Another Massachusetts politician, Martha Coakley, lost her sizeable lead (and ultimately the special election for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat) after she called Curt Schilling a Yankees fan.
Don't be another Kerry or Coakley. Your stump speeches should be sprinkled with basic sports nuggets: who's going to win the upcoming Super Bowl and why, and how you've already decided on your running mate, Tim Tebow. You'll also learn current sports tidbits, such as Barry Larkin's induction into the Hall of Fame (important for the swing state of Ohio), LeBron James' newfound post game (important for your upcoming Florida primary) and Kim Kardashian's sports dating history (just important). Forget your other tired talking points; talk smartly about sports and see some real fanfare.
Clearly none of you will ever be cool enough to deliver a "Monday Night Football" open as naturally as Barack Obama or channel your inner Roy Halladay by throwing out the first pitch, a la George W. Bush, but you must show a modicum of sports credibility.
Sports Gaffe Prevention Specialist
(My name is Melissa Jacobs and I approve this message.)