'Biden's back, all right!': Uncomfortable moments on the Democrats' primary campaign trail so far

From a 'High Hopes' dance to shaking a dog's face like a hand

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 11 February 2020 23:35
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Joe Biden supporters sing Backstreet Boys song

Forced enthusiasm and endless glad-handing on the campaign trail make it fertile ground for awkward and uncomfortable moments among the candidates, buoyed by the energy and teeth-baring sincerity of their team and supporters. Set to music or other pop-cultural markers, those moments become preserved in time.

While then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney was seeking the White House in 2008, he put his arms around a group of African-American voters and children in Florida to pose for a photo, asking: "Who's got the camera?" Then, inexplicably: "Who let the dogs out? Who, who?"

The song "Who Let the Dogs Out?" by the Baha Men was released eight years before that deeply uncomfortable moment, setting the standard for dated, cringey musical moments on the campaign trails to follow.

As 2020 Democratic presidential candidates campaigned in New Hampshire, a group of young Joe Biden supporters greeted the former vice president with their take on "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" by the Backstreet Boys ("Joe Biden / yeah yeah / Joe Biden / Biden's back / all right").

Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, brought back the "raising the roof" move with his supporters on Tuesday morning as polls opened in New Hampshire's primary election.

Last autumn, his yellow T-shirt-wearing campaigners in Iowa unveiled their now-infamous choreography to Panic at the Disco's "High Hopes", inspiring comedians Nick Ciarelli and Brad Evans to create a viral campaign dance of their own for Mike Bloomberg, set to Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" (the "Jagger" was replaced with a soulless monotone reading of "Bloomberg").

In December, the comedians shared a 23-second video of the dance, filmed at one of their shows in Los Angeles, on Twitter, where they went so far as to make their profiles resemble the kind of sincere lanyard-wearing campaign staffers who create moments that Mr Ciarelli and Mr Evans sought to parody.

Within 24 hours, Donald Trump Jr, New York Times reporters and dozens of others shared the video believing it was "real", while "#MovesLikeBloomberg" became a trending topic.

Meanwhile, the billionaire former New York mayor, while on the trail in Burlington, Vermont last month, shook a voter's hand, then a dog's nose, as if it were another hand.

It wasn't the first time either -- after a clip of the mayor's mouth-shake went viral, an image of Mr Bloomberg grabbing a dog by the top of its mouth on an earlier occasion recirculated soon after.

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