He may be hawking doughnuts, a debit card, a French airline and a Target store, but Bob Dole says he's a TV pitchman with a message.
"I just want people to know there's life after losing an election, and I think you can be a winner, even sometimes when you lose, and you can set an example for other people," said the former Kansas senator and Republican presidential candidate who has found new celebrity status outside of politics.Dole is doing most of the commercials for laughs and donating much of the money he's earned to charity, including his spiel for the big, new Target store that opened in Olathe, Kan.
"Now my career in politics is over, but I remain committed to providing you, the people of Kansas, with better opportunities, better resources and better choices," Dole says in the TV spot for the department store chain.
"With all this in mind, I would like to ask all of you one question: Paper or plastic?"
Dole, in an interview this week with the Associated Press, said he's careful about which commercial offers he accepts.
"If they're not any fun, I don't want to do them," he said. "I've turned down things I didn't think were appropriate, or dignified, or funny." Charities benefiting from his TV spots include the United Negro College Fund and a senior citizens group called Sarah's Circle based in Washington, D.C.
Advertising analysts say this Bob Dole - perpetually grinning and self-deprecating - should have been packaged and sold to the American public during last year's presidential race.
They praise him for being an effective pitchman, pointing to the commercial for the Visa check card, which premiered during the Super Bowl and continues to air.
"I just can't win," Dole laments as he tries to write a check at a hometown business - and is asked for identification.
This Dole is a lovable loser, Bob Garfield writes in the July 28 issue of Advertising Age: "People who eight months ago thought he was a sourpussed, opportunistic, inside-the-beltway deal-cutter will love him, and people who thought he sold out to the conservative cause will love him."