BOSTON - "The land of the free, home of the brave. The United States of America," intones the narrator on former Vice President Mike Pence's presidential campaign announcement video. And just in case you missed Pence's patriotic branding, the two minute and 44 second video includes no less than 41 flag images on-screen - an average of one every four seconds.
"Our country's in a lot of trouble," said Pence in the video. But not the flag-making industry if he has anything to say about it. And while Pence may have set a record for prolific use of the flag in a political ad, the practice is nothing new.
Donald Trump is the first candidate we've seen physically embracing the flag onstage. And Democrats are no strangers to flag placement in their photo-ops, so much so that the Pence campaign seemingly struggled to find Biden/Harris clips without a flag in the shot.
But if it seems Republicans are especially eager to be seen with Old Glory, there's good reason why.
In an academic study a few years back, researchers found Republican candidates draw more benefit from pictures of them with the flag among right-leaning voters than Democrats do among the left-leaning. Just ask former President Barack Obama, who took heat for not wearing a flag pin during his first term in office and quickly corrected that habit.
No wonder Pence's kickoff is a study in red, white and blue, his video ending with the words "God bless you, and God bless the United States of America" dissolving into a graphic of Pence's name over an image of, you guessed it, a waving flag.
This tactic makes perfect sense for Pence. He's gearing his campaign toward some of his party's most conservative voters calling, for instance, for abortion to be banned in all 50 states.
And as Americans celebrate Flag Day a week from today, perhaps some will subliminally think of Pence. But he's got plenty of competition for that branding, no doubt.
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