Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, announced this week that he would be focusing on gaining the vote of his core constituents: the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana).
Mr Romney took advantage of his visit to Ohio last week to expound a message of tolerance and welcome for the cockroach population. Talking to the Congress of Representatives for Affiliated Pests, Mr Romney outlined his policies benefiting the cockroach population, including an end to the controversial Jim Roach laws and the establishment of more facilities for cockroaches in deprived areas, along with a promise that “the roach shall inherit the earth after [Romney has] ended the Cold War once and for all”.
In his address, Mitt Romney’s promised that the cockroach would “no longer be regarded as a pest, but as a valued member of the American nation.” Mr Romney offered state-sponsored schools for cockroaches and tax breaks for single parent roaches and elderly roaches. In a divisive move, Mr Romney also guaranteed an end to the Jim Roach laws, which legislate enforced segregation of human and cockroach populations and have garnered much criticism from the cockroach rights movement. Breaking with the traditional Republican ideology, Mr Romney promised a policy of affirmative action, whereby the creation of a nuclear holocaust would place cockroaches on a superior standing to humanity.
With his campaign being dogged by unfortunate blunders and being described by conservative commentators as “inept” and “a rolling calamity”, Mitt Romney is in desperate need of a core vote. The most recent polls show that Romney continues to trail behind Barack Obama by three percentage points overall, and Mr Obama leads in the polls for each of the six key swing states. Mr Romney’s reputation has been damaged by his perceived elitism – compounded by the release of covert recordings of him disregarding the poorer half of the population of the USA, his lack of a concrete economic recovery plan, and his numerous foreign policy gaffes, including maintaining a stance of hostility towards Russia, declaring that war in the Middle East was unavoidable, and maligning the London Olympics. Sources close to the Republican candidate indicate that Mr Romney hopes that this newest appeal will strengthen his support base in the run-up to the November elections.
Ohio is of crucial importance to Mr Romney, having been a key swing state in recent elections – most notably in the Bush-Kerry election in 2004 (as publicised in the 2006 documentary …So Goes The Nation). Indeed, it is rare for a Republican candidate to win the White House without winning Ohio, and so a favourable response from its population would give Mr Romney’s campaign a significant morale boost. Cockroaches form a sizeable proportion of the Ohio electorate, and so Mr Romney’s petition for their support could see him nudging ahead of the Democrat campaign, which insists on continuing to canvass the local human population.
Mr Romney’s strategy has received positive responses from many quarters. Matt Rhoades, the Republican Campaign Manager, said: “This really is an innovative approach to the tangled warren that is state campaigning. I’ve never seen anyone canvass a specific demographic so persistently. When [Mr Romney] gets an idea into his head, he’s like a bulldog: he’ll latch on and he just won’t let go.”
Dicty Blattaria, chairwoman of the National Association for the Advancement of the Cockroach Population, said: “It’s pleasing to have a presidential candidate who is finally responding to our message. For too long has the cockroach population been underrepresented in our government: we have no cockroach senators and only three cockroach congresspersons.”
Critics of Mr Romney’s campaign, however, have pointed out the disturbing financial link between the Republican candidate and roach rights groups. Cockroach political action committees (PACs) have so far indirectly contributed more than 1.5 million to the Republican campaign through advertisements on state and national television. Matthew Barzun, Mr Obama’s National Finance Chair, said: “the Republicans cannot think that people will turn a blind eye to this. Mr Romney may benefit in the short-term from this campaigning, but human beings aren’t likely to be particularly receptive to this roach-orientated campaigning.”
Furthermore, some cockroach rights groups claim Mr Romney’s promises do not go far enough. The Nation of Blattodea – a cockroach supremacist group located in New York – said: “Mr Romney should not continue to conform to the mistakes of his predecessors. Time and time again, history has shown us that man and cockroach cannot live in harmony. If he truly wants the cockroach vote, he needs to prove his commitment to our ideals and promise us an independent nation of Blattodea.”