Smoking Herman Cain Campaign Ad: Brilliant or Bizarre?

The latest Cain 2012 ad features its chief of staff smoking a cigarette.

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The Herman Cain 2012 campaign released an ad titled "Now is the time for action!". The video, posted on Cain 2012's YouTube channel, features Cain's chief of staff Mark Block speaking directly into camera. He says:

Tomorrow is one day closer to the White House. I really believe that Herman Cain will put united back in the United States of America, and if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be here. We've run a campaign like nobody's ever seen. But then, American's never seen a candidate like Herman Cain. We need you to get involved because, together, we can do this. We can take this country back!

After his monologue, Block takes a drag of his cigarette. The ad closes with a tight shot of Cain turning and smiling to the camera as a techno-pop song sings "I am America." The video caught the attention of the media, including a spot on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. But many watchers are asking, "Is this for real?"

[See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 GOP hopefuls.]

Already pundits are deconstructing the strategy behind the unconventional ad, particularly Block's cigarette smoking. They theorize that it is meant to represent personal liberty, or that it is an appeal to the "Joe the plumber" middle America electorate. It may have just been a ploy to get a viral video hit. However, the uproar over the video also points to the doubts surrounding the seriousness of the Cain campaign in general. For a time, many thought (and some still think) the Cain candidacy was simply a vehicle for the pizza magnate to promote his new book This Is Herman Cain!: My Journey to the White House. But now that he is a frontrunner, the Cain campaign appears to be scrambling to ride his popularity. Whatever the motive—of both the video and the campaign itself—it's working. In a week the video has gained nearly 400,000 views and Cain leads the field in the latest CBS/ New York Times poll.

What do you think? Is the Herman Cain ad bizarre or brilliant? Take the poll and comment below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Is a Sharia-Law-Based Libya a Betrayal of the Arab Spring?