NATALIE COLE WINS A KIDNEY

It was announcement-as-theater, as Supreme mocked the presidential election process (mimicking Howard Dean’s infamous scream from the last Democratic primary campaign), attempted to place a boot on Gardner’s head (Gardner begged off, describing the boot as “pretty wet”), and – in an effort to display the surgical scar that resulted from his kidney donation to his mother – showed more skin than would be fit for a child’s eyes.
“I believe I am the only living human organ donor in this race at this time, and I am challenging each and every candidate, Republican and Democrat, to give one up,” he said, with his shirt pulled up his chest. “There is no reason to have two kidneys. That is sheer selfishness. Give it up; give it up. You show how much you care for the people, then we’ll talk about how much you care for the people. . . . Any other questions?”

To which Gardner, who was standing in the corner, muttered an exclamation of disbelief.


12/29/2007

A candidate’s treasures

Concord Monitor

Campaign 2008

Vermin Supreme donates skewed history to political library
By SARAH LIEBOWITZ
Monitor staff

In the words of Republican presidential candidate Vermin Supreme, the New Hampshire Political Library yesterday inherited “a whole bunch of crap.”

There are the seemingly contradictory Supreme campaign slogans (“It being a marginally reality-based campaign, I can pretty much say whatever I want and deny it”): Bumper stickers promoting mandatory dental hygiene (“Brush your teeth. It’s the law”) and others asserting personal liberty (“U.S. out of my mouth”). A photograph of Supreme (yes, that’s his legal name) attached to a Suzanne Somers exercise ad will also go in the collection, as will one of Supreme’s signature accessories: A rubber boot, which he wears atop his head.

But whatever your assessment of Supreme’s donation – the fruits of his years on the campaign trail – one fact is indisputable: Never before has the library received such a gift.

“The future of democracy and my legacy are assured,” Supreme intoned in a press conference yesterday with Secretary of State Bill Gardner and library president and CEO Michael Chaney. “It’s definitely worth the $1 million that I’ll be writing off on my taxes.”

And unable to resist an off-color joke, Supreme pointed to the silver underwear he wore outside his clothes as he described his “endowment” to the library.

It was announcement-as-theater, as Supreme mocked the presidential election process (mimicking Howard Dean’s infamous scream from the last Democratic primary campaign), attempted to place a boot on Gardner’s head (Gardner begged off, describing the boot as “pretty wet”), and – in an effort to display the surgical scar that resulted from his kidney donation to his mother – showed more skin than would be fit for a child’s eyes.
“I believe I am the only living human organ donor in this race at this time, and I am challenging each and every candidate, Republican and Democrat, to give one up,” he said, with his shirt pulled up his chest. “There is no reason to have two kidneys. That is sheer selfishness. Give it up; give it up. You show how much you care for the people, then we’ll talk about how much you care for the people. . . . Any other questions?”

To which Gardner, who was standing in the corner, muttered an exclamation of disbelief.

Supreme has been a New Hampshire primary regular for more than a decade (Like everything about Supreme, there’s a question about this fact, too – Chaney thought Supreme first ran in 1992, to which the candidate responded, “I’m claiming ’88”). This is the first time that Supreme has paid the $1,000 filing fee to be listed on the ballot. His filing address is listed as Rockport, Mass., although Supreme – a self-described “not-so-handy man” in his non-campaigning life – said that he was from Baltimore.

Over the years, he has campaigned for free ponies for all Americans and has taken on “oral decay” and gum-line erosion. While dental hygiene still figures prominently in Supreme’s message – “what this mandatory toothbrushing law is really about is: Strong teeth for a strong America,” a Supreme handout states – the threat of terrorism has permeated his worldview.

In 2008, his issue is “fear-mongering,” Supreme said. “The more fear we can monger, the more we can clamp down,” Supreme explained. “It’s all, ‘Vote for Vermin Supreme or terrible things will happen to your family while you sleep.’ ”

Supreme, whose wife was in attendance yesterday, held his press conference clad in a flight suit and silver underwear, with a green zebra-print blazer that he said came from a thrift store in Lithuania. Around his neck were 10 ties, many of them with dental themes. Atop his head: A black boot (they tend to come, he said, from the dump). As for the name: “all politicians are vermin. I’m the vermin supreme,” he said.

The boot gains Supreme notice at political events, and he’s stopped many candidates with questions. At a Hillary Clinton event earlier this year, Supreme attempted to ask the Democratic candidate whether she supported waterboarding in the public schools. He asked Republican Mike Huckabee if, were he elected president, he “would be able to stop evolution.” For Republican Ron Paul, he had a series of questions about Satan (“when I asked him if he had a message for Satan, he begged off”). Over the years, Supreme, and his boot, have won mentions in numerous publications, including The Washington Post.

The library’s other new treasures? Supreme’s emperor suit, what he describes as “an artist rendition of what Vermin Supreme might look like when he’s running for emperor in the year 3000.” It comes complete with flippers, which Supreme describes as epaulets.

“Every primary or every other primary, there will be a candidate like him that will come in dressed in a unique style, and it at least gets some people to ask you some questions,” Gardner said. But Supreme differs from other lesser-known candidates, many of whom run with a serious agenda, Gardner said.

Supreme, in a reflective moment, could only agree.

“There is a certain amount of self-awareness to my campaign,” he said. “It means that I’m aware of how off-the-wall I am.”

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