Former Seinfeld star Jason Alexander has a new role. In a new campaign ad, he plays the moderator of a mock debate between Democratic congressional hopeful Harley Rouda and his Southern California district’s 15-term Republican incumbent, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.
The three-minute clip features an increasingly baffled-looking Alexander lobbing questions at a monitor showing news clips of Rohrabacher. On the other side of the stage, Rouda dishes out dad-joke takedowns in a noticeably stiff attempt at thespianism.
In response to a question about his position on climate change, a soundbite of Rohrabacher at a 2007 hearing plays: “Just so you know, global warming is a total fraud… We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence or who knows.” Rouda responds, “The only dinosaurs around Orange County are in theme parks. Ninety-seven percent of scientists know climate change is being driven by our overuse of fossil fuels.”
Michael McLaughlin, Rouda’s campaign manager, says that Alexander is friends with a Rouda supporter and agreed to participate in the spot for free. The “lighthearted” skit, he says, presents Rouda as the “right choice to go up against Dana Rohrabacher.”
The ad was launched online with less than two weeks before the June 5 primary election, in which Rouda will face a crowded field of 12 candidates, including Rohrabacher.
The response to the spot, McLaughlin says, has been positive. Yet not everyone is in love with it. “My god,” wrote one commenter on YouTube, “This was one of the cringiest things I’ve ever seen. Whoever convinced you to spend even a dollar on making this should quit campaigns, and it obviously cost way more than a dollar.”
The ad cost eight grand to produce, according to McLaughlin. “We’ve been sitting on this script for months and waiting to find the right person to execute it,” he says. When asked about its unusual length, he says, “I think the Jason Alexander part is a good enough of hook to get someone committed to watch it through.”