Campaign Ad Tools, Ostrich Riding and Chess
Politicians are famous for tooting their own horns, but not many would offer up riding an ostrich as a qualification to be elected to a congressional seat.
So meet Jeff Barth, bidding to be the Democratic candidate to run against a Republican incumbent to represent South Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives.
His new wacky campaign ad -- in which he walks down an endless tree-lined country lane, accompanied by fiddle music and passing many weird props including a mannequin, a globe and a snow-white horse -- has gone viral.
Dubbed by the U.S. media "the most bizarre campaign ad of the year," it may be raising Barth's profile as he aims to defeat rival Matt Varilek in a June 5 primary to choose the Democratic party's candidate for November's election.
"I've ridden an ostrich and done a lot of stuff," Barth says in the ad, as he presses his credentials for the job, which also include that he lived around the world with his diplomat father, "even Lesotho."
"Along the way I learned chess in Iceland," he says, before making a move with a glass chess piece on a board conveniently perched next to the dusty track.
"I have a lifetime of experience. From Eisenhower to Obama. From Vietnam to Afghanistan," the former telecoms engineer says, before picking up a gun and shooting, causing a plastic chicken to fall out of the sky behind him.
Barth, who is currently a county commissioner, told a South Dakota political blog that the ad was shot on May 15 in a Sioux Falls park, and volunteers had set up the props along the way. But the ad had to be filmed in several takes.
"I had originally tried to memorize the whole thing," Barth said. "Then when we were unable to shoot it the first time, I lost some of my edge on that."
Some of the effects were added later, including the horse's swishing tail.
The Argus Leader noted that Barth's campaign has so far failed to attract the big bucks, while Varilek has already built a political profile, and Republican incumbent Kristi Noem has more than $1 million in her war chest.
"Let's face it, that's my best chance," Barth said. "I can't compete dollar for dollar with a candidate that's tapped into a United States senator's fundraising machine. I have to try to use my imagination."