In a surprise move today, the seven major Republican candidates for president (who are not named "Mitt Romney") decided to merge their campaigns, and run as a single corporate "person" they are now calling "Anybody But Romney, Incorporated."
Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum held a joint press conference to announce the formation of "ABR, Inc." This move is unprecedented in the history of presidential campaigns, but all seven candidates spoke of it as the natural reaction by Republicans to avoid nominating Mitt Romney, who is just not trusted by roughly three-fourths of the Republican electorate. By joining forces, the field of non-Romney candidates said, they can assure Republican voters that Romney will not be their party's standard-bearer next year.
While the concept of a corporation running for the highest office in the land seems to be unconstitutional on its face, the group stated that the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case has opened the door for such a move. "If corporations are persons," said Herman Cain in the press conference, "then why shouldn't they run for president? It just makes sense."
ABR, Inc. swears that, if elected, they will rotate the individual who sits in the Oval Office chair on a weekly basis. "We will draw straws to determine the order in which we'll rotate the roster of who is spokesperson each week," explained Newt Gingrich, "but for all important decisions, we will rule as a group, with each person having an equal vote." Gingrich went on to point out that, since there were an odd number in the corporation, "it'll be impossible for us to have a tie vote." The clip of Gingrich describing his group comprised of an "odd number" immediately went viral online.
The question of a running mate was left open, for now. "Gosh, there's lots of folks out there who would probably do a better job than Joe Biden," responded Michele Bachmann, when asked who would share the ticket with ABR, Inc. "We're confident that, when the time comes, we'll be able to pick one of them, or perhaps a coalition of them, should they choose to incorporate."
Rick Santorum was dripping with enthusiasm for the corporation's chances. "Look, over seventy percent of Republicans obviously won't hold their noses and vote for Mitt." This, he said, leaves a huge majority for ABR, Inc. to turn out at the polls. Jon Huntsman agreed with this idea, saying "we've seen how the Republican base has flirted with a number of us so far -- and this way, they won't have to choose between us." This is perhaps natural, since neither Huntsman nor Santorum has polled well throughout the campaign so far.
Ron Paul pitched his appeal slightly differently, actually quoting his own poll numbers. "I consistently poll at around one-in-ten Republican voters. My question to my loyal supporters is: which would you rather see, me in the Oval Office one week out of every seven, or Mitt Romney there every day of every week?" Paul could barely be heard by the end of his statement, due to a large contingent of his followers cheering loudly at the back of the room, but the microphones picked up his final words: "I think the choice is obvious, don't you?"
Rick Perry took the podium to explain the breakdown of responsibilities the seven would share on the campaign trail for the next few months. "I will be in charge of looking good for the cameras," Perry stated with a wide grin, "and I feel confident that my haircut can take on Romney's haircut, follicle for follicle. I'll admit Mitt's got good hair, but my hair is Texas hair and simply does not back down from a tough fight." Perry also said he'd be "the guy everyone wants to sit down and have a beer with." Perry seemed to want to continue with a third responsibility, but he was hustled away from the microphone before he could do so. Newt Gingrich joked with reporters, "I think two items is enough for Rick to take care of, right? Three would be a step too far, we think."
Gingrich went on to lay out his main duties in the campaign. "I will be representing ABR, Inc. in all the remaining candidate debates. We all agree that I'm the master debater of the lot, so this will be my major focus in the weeks ahead. I can wipe the floor with Mitt Romney on television, and I will be doing so from now on. I'll also be in charge of foreign policy, because I am able to name many countries in the rest of the world."
Herman Cain took over at this point, and outlined the rest of the team's responsibilities, after joking that Newt would also be in charge of rallying "the Tiffany's shoppers" in the base, with Newt's "diamond-hard intellect."
When the laughter had died down, Cain began listing what the rest of the corporate spokespeople would be doing. Jon Huntsman, Cain said, would be in charge of outreach to Mormon voters, because "we're going to win Utah, much to Mitt's surprise!" Huntsman would also be in charge of speaking to groups of moderate voters, although Cain admitted this would likely not take place until the general election, because there were so few moderate Republican primary voters left.
Ron Paul, according to Cain, would be in charge of Libertarian outreach, and motivating "all those voters out West whom the rest of us have no clue how to reach." Michele Bachmann would be in charge of the campaign's Iowa caucus organization, "since she's already all but taken up residence in the state." Bachmann would also be the go-to spokeswoman whenever the "liberal mainstream media" wanted an interview, "because she seems to enjoy going on these shows so much."
Rick Santorum would lead the efforts to turn out the Tea Party and "family values" faction of Republican voters, and would also be in charge of the ABR corporation's online operations -- although Cain did issue a plea "for the love of God, don't Google his name... just give him a call, OK?"
Asked who would be in charge of outreach to gays, Cain responded "We're not going to do that, sorry." Asked who would lead the effort to get Latino votes, Cain merely looked puzzled. He turned to the rest of the group and tried to ask privately (although his voice was clearly caught by the microphones), "Latinos can vote? I thought they were all illegal!"
Recovering from this gaffe, Cain declared himself to be the "economic guru" of the new corporation, stating he could go toe-to-toe with Romney's corporate credentials. "I didn't succeed in business by taking over companies and firing everyone -- I actually delivered a tasty pizza to your table, which I doubt Mitt Romney is even capable of doing. Say it with me: nine... Nine... NINE!"
The biggest shock was Cain's closing line, where he stated "I will also be in charge of outreach to women in the campaign, going forward." An audible gasp rose from the crowd when he announced this, because (as usual) nobody could tell whether he was "just kidding" or not.
The press release handed out to reporters after the press conference ended stated: "It just makes sense -- none of us on our own may be able to beat Mitt, but all of us together will be an unstoppable political force. We thank the Supreme Court for making this historic candidacy possible."
It further went on to state that, after winning in the primaries, the corporation would change its name to "Anybody But Obama, Incorporated," for the general election campaign next fall.
-- Chris Weigant
Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant