No need to worry about that rabbit or goldfish in Herman Cain's surreal new "campaign" ads - he says no animals were harmed in the making of the videos. It remains unclear, though, if we should be worried about Cain himself.
If you haven't seen the ads yet, brace yourself, then click here. Both feature the same little girl standing in a dystopian landscape and explaining a non-intuitive metaphor: goldfish = economy, mud = stimulus; rabbit = small business, catapult + shotgun = tax code. "Any questions?" the girl asks, twice, in each ad.
The ads have drawn criticism from animal-rights groups, including the Humane Society and PETA, which say they trivialize animal suffering. Cain's political action committee responded on YouTube that "the goldfish is fine," and Cain told Politico on Tuesday the rabbit is, too. "The liberals are trying to paint it like I'm killing animals," he said. "The rabbit that we shot was a toy, stuffed rabbit. It was not a real rabbit."
Not that there's anything wrong with killing rabbits, Cain added: "Did you know that in some parts of this country, it is legal to hunt rabbits for dinner? So what's so outrageous about shooting a toy bunny rabbit out of the air?" Nothing, of course.
The former presidential candidate has remained active since dropping out of the Republican race late last year, making appearances around the country - including his "Rock Me Like a Herman Cain" event with comedian Stephen Colbert in January - and writing regularly on his blog, where he starts every post with the same line: "Hello, I'm Herman Cain. They think we are STUPID."
This month's ads, however, seem to mark a strange new direction for Cain, scrapping the jubilant days of "aww, shucky ducky" for a darker, more surrealist tone. But as Cain tells Politico, the goal isn't to disturb us; it's simply to distract us. "We live in a 24/7, information-overload society," he says. "If I went out there with namby-pamby ads to drive home a point, nobody would notice, because it is intended to be provocative. We are going to continue with that strategy."