Onward Marches Campaign Journalism

The Blonde Babes for Bush
(l to r, Amy Stephens, Cindy
Murphy, and Peggy Littleton)

Any delegate gunning for air time at a national political convention needs a gimmick. As far as TV-ready gimmicks go, the evergreen press attention-getters include “funny hats,” vast lapel pin collections, and frantically-waved signs-on-sticks. As The New Yorker’s Philip Gourevitch told Campaign Desk during the Democratic convention last month: The delegate who is most “visually arresting” wins.

Enter “Blonde Babes for Bush.”

The “Babes” — three middle-aged, bottle-assisted blondes from Colorado Springs, Colorado — wandered off the delegates’ floor late this afternoon and into the bowels of Madison Square Garden to hold court in front of the table in “Radio Row” where Fox News’ Sean Hannity was recording his afternoon talk show. There they hovered for over twenty minutes — resplendent in hard-to-miss suits in hues ranging from pink Zinfandel to Bazooka bubble gum, each darker than the next — jockeying for Hannity’s attention.

When Cindy Murphy, Amy Stephens, and Peggy Littleton decided to “run for national delegate,” Murphy told me, they prepared their own press kits and “campaign stickers” (a photo of themselves, dressed in pink), and dubbed themselves the “Blonde Babes for Bush.” But “in a forty-something way,” Murphy quickly added, “not in a twenty-something hard-body way.” The “Babes,” by the way, are “huge” Hannity fans.

“Oooh he drinks Starbucks! That’s his secret,” cooed one of the pink ladies as Hannity, on break, sipped from a tall paper Starbucks cup nearby. “We’re Blonde Babes for Bush!” a “Babe” shouted in Hannity’s direction. “I love Blonde Babes for Bush!” Hannity bellowed back, approaching the women for a round of high-fives. “Do your husbands know you’re here?” he asked with a grin, before returning to his chair and snapping on his headphones.

The “Babes” were beside themselves. Murphy told me she loves Hannity because “along with Rush, he’s the voice of conservatism in America.” Littleton and Stephens stood nearby, Littleton wearing a tiny leather purse, pink, with a black “W” emblazoned on it, and clutching a fuzzy stuffed elephant, also pink, which she later pressed into Hannity’s hands.

While watching Hannity, the trio flirted with a group of muscular New York City police officers, one of whom was given a “Babes campaign sticker” and was then assisted in pasting it into the inside of his police cap. But the cops were quickly forgotten when Hannity hollered, “Hey ladies!” to which the “Babes” quickly replied, “Woo hoo!” Hannity’s invitation to “come around to the mic, [because] we have a few minutes here” was immediately accepted.

With the “Babes” seated before him Hannity asked, once again, “Do your husbands know you’re here?” before reassuring his listening audience that he’s a “happily married man,” and adding that the “key to a happy marriage is … all you have to do is be nice to your wife” and buy her jewelry.

Hannity queried the “Babes” for a few seconds (“Why’d you all dress in pink?”, etc.) before returning, for the third time, to his initial question, “And you left your husbands home?” Yes, yes, the “Babes” repeated, the husbands were back in Colorado.

With that, Hannity reminded his audience that they were hearing “the best, comprehensive campaign coverage” and turned to a caller’s question. The “Babes’” Sean Hannity Moment was over.

For their final 13 minutes of convention-week fame, “Blonde Babes for Bush” likely will have to settle for some hometown press.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.