As if Rick Perry wasn’t getting skewered enough for his debate performances, now his latest ad, “Strong,” is going viral. But not because people like it.
By Monday afternoon, the ad had registered nearly 650,000 “dislikes” on YouTube, compared to just over 20,000 likes. And it has sparked nearly 700 reply videos, including some merciless parodies that feature people wearing the same kind of jacket Perry wears, and even appearances by “Jesus” mocking the presidential candidate.
If you haven’t seen the original ad, here it is:
In it, Perry suggests that President Barack Obama is waging a “war on religion” after signing legislation allowing gays to serve in the military. It’s drawn some 6 million views on YouTube, more than any other campaign video this year, company officials said.
Perry is seen walking up a grassy hillside, dressed in a brown barn jacket and blue shirt.
“I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m Christian,” Perry says. “But you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know that there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in schools.”
He continues, “As president, I’ll end Obama’s war on religion and I’ll fight against liberal attacks on our religious heritage.”
As he struggles for traction three weeks before the GOP nominating contest opens in Iowa, Perry is using the ad to appeal to the kind of Christian conservatives who typically dominate the state’s precinct caucuses. But it may be backfiring.
Several people have now spoofed the ad including the popular site Funny or Die, which did a “bad lip reading” version talking about ducks, Seth Rogan, and space (content warning for mild language):
Another, satirist Andy Cobb, is much more crude.
“I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m an atheist,” Cobb says, “but you know there’s something wrong with this country when politicians think it’s OK to hate on gays and nonbelievers in ads.” The rest of his ad we couldn’t quote nor embed.
Still another video shows a brown-jacketed rabbi, Jason Miller from Michigan, calling out Perry on Christmas.
“I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a Jew,” Miller says. “There’s something wrong in our country when gays can serve openly in the military but still can’t marry each other in most U.S. states.”
Some videos include a message from Jesus.
“I’m ashamed to admit that you are (a Christian),” a cartoon Jesus says to Perry in one.
In another, an actor playing Jesus says, “Rick Perry using my name to promote his agenda against gays in the military is just pathetic.”
Stephen Farnsworth, an associate professor of communications at George Mason University, said the ad may well help Perry in Iowa, where polls are starting to show him inch up a bit. But Farnsworth said the ad’s message – and the parodies it has spawned – won’t help in the long run, particularly when it comes to connecting with moderate and swing voters.
“The worst thing to be in American politics is a joke,” Farnsworth said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.