4 tips for political style, from Michelle Obama’s stylist

Clothing plays a huge role in political image-making, and Meredith Koop, who worked as the former FLOTUS’ stylist since 2010, has some suggestions. Also in this week’s issue:

  • How to blow up your political ad campaign by playing to an audience of one

  • The age of video game politics is here

  • How street artists are beautifying boarded-up businesses


How to blow up your political ad campaign by playing to an audience of one

Credit: @ProjectLincoln/Twitter

If you’re looking to get some milage out of an attack ad against President Trump but you’re on a budget, you could do worse than the Lincoln Project, which made an ad buy on Trump’s cable news network of choice that paid off big.

The group, a super PAC created by anti-Trump Republicans, spent $10,000 to produce an ad titled “Mourning in America” that criticizes Trump for making the U.S. “weaker, and sicker, and poorer.”

The super PAC spent $5,000 to air the ad last week on Fox News during “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” and a few hours later, just before 1 a.m. ET, Trump went off on Twitter, calling the group “RINO Republicans who failed badly,” “LOSERS,” and “a disgrace to Honest Abe.”

The free publicity paid off. The Lincoln Project told the Washington Post the ad received 17 million total views and they raised about $2 million from 25,000 new donors in a few days. They are using the money to air the ad in three battleground states.

“We obviously got a lot of attention thanks to the president, and we’re very grateful to him for that,” George Conway, a Lincoln Project advisor and husband to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, told the Post.

Here’s the Republican messaging on coronavirus and China

The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent campaigns a 57-page memo with tips and talking points for how to discuss the coronavirus. The bottom line: attack China.

The memo, reported by Politico in April, called the virus “a Chinese hit-and-run” and advised Republicans to pivot away from talking about Trump. “Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China,” the memo stated.

Ads for a pair of Republican U.S. House candidates give us a first look at what this China-focused campaign strategy is like.

Casey Askar, a Florida restaurant-chain owner, says in his ad, “The Chinese government lied about the coronavirus,” and “China must pay.”

Jim Bognet, whose family owns a construction company in Pennsylvania, filmed his ad himself, selfie style. “The Chinese lied to us,” Bognet says in his ad. “They tried to cover up coronavirus. When I’m your congressman, we’ll make China pay.”

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4 tips for political style, from Michelle Obama’s stylist

Credit: @meredithkoop/Instagram

Former first lady Michelle Obama said in her new “Becoming” documentary on Netflix that she had to become more “strategic” in how she presented herself in the White House “because it had the potential of defining me for the rest of my life.” She said she learned to use fashion as a tool. Obama stylist Meredith Koop said she felt her role was more of a costume designer than a traditional stylist, “dressing [Obama] and the children for this role.”

Koop spoke with Vogue about dressing for politics. While “there is a big reluctance to acknowledge that people are going to pay attention to what you wear,” she said, she offered a few words of advice:

  • There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Koop said there is a desire for women in politics to be taken as seriously as their male counterparts which is why they rely on a suit “or something that feels covered,” but she said it depends on the candidate. “I think each woman is different: There’s a big difference between a Hillary to an Amy Klobuchar to an Elizabeth Warren to an AOC or Nancy Pelosi,” she said.

  • Figure out what’s important to you and try to align that with your wardrobe. If it’s climate change, for example, “look into wearing sustainable or rewear the clothes you already own,” she said. But don’t let it become “contrived or distracting, where the story becomes only about the clothing.”

  • Acknowledge the current financial situation. “If you’re looking at a dress that costs thousands of dollars and it’s so unrelatable in this moment, I just don’t think I would ever advise someone running for office to engage in that,” she said.

  • Don’t worry about “rules.” “I am for less rules,” she said. “I don’t want to make women’s lives any more bound up in things that we have to do and how we have to look. I really want there to be more freedom and more ability for women to be who they are. It’s about constructing a narrative that is right for you.”

The U.S. Space Force just released its first recruitment video

Credit: U.S. Air Force and Space Force Recruiting/YouTube

“Space Force” the Netflix series beat Space Force the military branch to the punch last week when it came to videos previewing what’s next. Last Tuesday, Netflix released a trailer for their series, out May 29, and the next day, U.S. Air Force and Space Force Recruiting was out with its first commercial.

The USSF ad has images of rockets and a man looking up at the night sky with a voiceover that says, “Some people look to the stars and ask, ‘What if’? Our job is to have an answer.” It ends with, “Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet.”

The Trump campaign is still fundraising off the Space Force, with branded merchandise that violates Defense Department guidelines and norms against political use and fundraising off service branches.

The age of video game politics is here

Credit: Justin Mirsky/via the Washington Post

Just two weeks after rapper Travis Scott broke attendance records on the video game Fornite with his virtual concert, the political world got what might be its first major in-game cameo.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) made her public virtual video game debut last Thursday on Animal Crossing: New Horizons. AOC told the Intercept’s Aida Chavez she got a Nintendo Switch and copy of the game several days prior, and tweeted that she was going to visit some of her follower’s virtual islands. Ocasio-Cortez’s character wore a hand-drawn campaign logo tee and visited the island of New Yorker Justin Mirsky, who said AOC left a note on his bulletin board.

In other political gaming news, former Buttigieg campaign spokesperson Lis Smith suggested Monday that the Biden campaign do a Travis Scott-style virtual appearance projected onto the Grand Canyon, and her idea was roundly mocked on politics Twitter.

Candidates have used video games before. In 2008, the Obama campaign bought ad space across nine games from Electronic Arts Inc., including “Madden 09.” The ads appeared on billboards and signs in the games from October through the day before Election Day.

How street artists are beautifying boarded-up businesses

“Healthcare is Human Right” mural by Mark Harris (left), FDR mural by Sam Flores and Tiger Buder (right) Credit: @paintthevoidproject/Instagram

After San Francisco went into lockdown, businesses across the city boarded up their windows to prevent break-ins. The sight of boarded-up areas bummed people out, though, so a group of artists stepped in to beautify the city.

“My business partner and I had different friends reaching out to us saying what can we do,” Shannon Riley, a co-founder of the art consultancy and production company Building 180 told Yello in an interview. “This would be amazing if we could paint the boards.”

Building 180 partnered with Art for Civil Discourse to create Paint the Void, a project to coordinate with artists and businesses and get art up quickly. As of last week, they were responsible for more than 30 murals from 40 artists on 20 businesses. You can see more of their work here.

Riley said they’ve been able to give artists a small stipend for materials, and passersby sometimes offer to Venmo artists money. Artists have been asked to wear masks, work alone, and follow social distancing guidelines. Riley said she’s noticed the art has made a difference.

“People are now feeling more comfortable to walk in their neighborhood,” she said. “They’re going out to see art on their daily walk.”

LEGO is putting out a full White House set

Back in 2010, LEGO released a 560-piece White House set to build the Executive Residence. Ten years later, the set is getting an expansion. The toy brand’s Architecture line is updating its White House to include the North Lawn and the East and West Wings. The 1,483-piece set is expected to be released in June and retail for about $110.