The Story Behind One Of The Great Political Ads Of ALL TIME

Who loves puppies? Michael Steele loves puppies!
Who wouldn't vote for that little pup???
Who wouldn't vote for that little pup???

The canon of historic political quotes isn't deep.

There's FDR's "nothing to fear, but fear itself"; JFK's "ask not what your country can do for you"; Patrick Henry's "give me liberty or give me death"; and, of course, Michael Steele's "for the record, I love puppies."

And that, basically, is it.

In 2006, Steele was a mere lieutenant governor of Maryland running for the state's open U.S. Senate seat. One of the most prominent African-American Republicans in the country, he anticipated that he'd take a heaping of vitriol from his opponents. And so, in a preemptive strike, he decided to produce what can be remembered as one of the great campaign ads of all time: the Puppy ad.

In the latest Candidate Confessional, Steele recounted how it all came together and revealed a shocking truth: The puppy in the commercial wasn't his!

"I said, 'Look guys, I can't do red, white, and blue. I'm not a red, white, and blue Republican," Steele said. "I'm sorry. You cannot do an ad with me sitting in front of some picket fence with the flag flying over my head and this sick-ass music playing underneath … I come from the hood. I come from 8th street, Petworth [in Washington, D.C.]. So I need to keep it real. I was like, 'Look, you and I know that they are going to come after me. And they're going to say I'm the worst thing ever since God created man. They're even going to say that I hate puppies.' 

"So the next day, I come into the office and the guy brought his puppy. He said, 'We're going to make an ad.' I said, 'Okay, let's talk about that.' So we talked it through and I said, 'Great, let's do it.'"

Steele lost the election. He now has a dog of his own and is an MSNBC analyst.

He said the puppy in the ad did a better job than he did. All it took was three takes.

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Make sure to tune in to next week's episode, when our guest will be Ben Konop, discussing what it was like when your worst moment on the campaign trail goes viral. 

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