With Rick Santorum out of the race, the Republican base is scrambling to build support around another contender who could beat Romney. And they may have discovered a dark horse candidate: an unidentified shirtless man screaming obscenities at traffic from the parking lot of a Tulsa-area Walgreens.
"He's not plastic," says one Tea Party conservative. "He's speaking straight from his heart. He wants a carton of Merits and some Jiffy Pop, and he doesn't want to have to put his shirt on to get them. You know why? Because this is America."
Shortly after beginning his remarks to passing cars and Walgreens security at 6 am, the man surfaced on Youtube, where he garnered more than 100,000 viewers. Conservative groups then raised $3 million in donations to form an exploratory committee for the man, but have not been able to contact him, since he appeared to have thrown his cell phone into a storm drain, before defecating into it. Still, Republicans are hopeful.
"Voters want to feel like the candidate shares their passion, otherwise what's the point?" asks GOP strategist Mary Matalin. "This guy called Obama a 'super-spy from Islamtown,' and he's clearly against receiving mental health care under the current administration. That's more than you can say for Romney."
The possible candidate also staked out key positions that will relate to social conservatives and economic populists, accusing his gay neighbors of poisoning his cereal, and calling for a moratorium on gun control and free scratch-n-win tickets for veterans. He then picked up a dirt-encrusted Pepsi can and threw it at a passerby, prompting insiders to speculate that he was feeling the can out as a potential running mate.
"The can has a bold, red, white, and blue color scheme," says Matalin. "It's proud. It's a patriot. On the other hand, the filth smeared on it will ensure it won't overshadow the main candidate. Kind of like Quayle."
GOP operatives are not completely convinced the man has the discipline to stand up to Mitt Romney, especially since his first appearance ended with the arrival of the police, and repeated taserings. But Bryan Morris, political science professor at Yale thinks he represents the last, best hope core conservatives have of winning.
"We're looking at 80 year-old Tea Partiers who scream about small government, while they collect their entitlement checks. Politicians making speeches about cutting the deficit, while they refuse to talk about tax revenue or cut a gargantuan military," says Morris. "They say they want a strong defense, while supporting a web of military commitments that does everything except protect ordinary Americans. They say they support freedom, but they want the feds to police your bedroom. I mean, the GOP is doing everything it can to avoid developing any coherent political goals whatsoever. So... some guy hollering about Obama's Arab spies and crapping through a drainage grate seems to be their best bet."
"Unless he's pro-choice."