Presidential campaign as game: Truth, fiction meet Cartoon candidate draws a crowd

July 03, 1992|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Boomer Littlefeet is creating quite a commotion outside the White House.

As the animated candidate for president campaigns wildly along Pennsylvania Avenue, a stern-looking Secret Service agent strides out to investigate.

He orders Boomer, who's wearing a football helmet, to move away from the fence. Apparently, the placard he's waving has set off security alarms.

Then a woman stops on the sidewalk, sizes up the bizarre scene, and says in a foreign accent, "Boomer who?"

Boomer Littlefeet, that's who -- the candidate with the slogan, "He's got more dough than Ross Perot."

Boomer's dough, though, is play money.

But the imaginary candidate's chief strategist is quite real.

Boomer Littlefeet is part of a new board game, "Road to the White House." He is being brought to life by Terry Michael, who helped runSen. Paul Simon's presidential campaign four years ago.

Mr. Michael staged Boomer's recent appearance outside the White House.

"I got into this campaign because this guy was a flack's dream," Mr. Michael said. "You whispered something into his ear and it came right out his mouth -- no brain to run interference."

Actually, Mr. Michael got into the campaign because Mayfair Games Inc. of Niles, Ill., hired the Washington public relations firm he works for, Ogilvy Adams and Rinehart, to help sell "Road to the White House."

The game simulates a presidential campaign. Players plot strategy, raise money and react to breaking events as their candidates travel from state to state vying for electoral votes.

The game features 25 candidates, some of whom resemble actual politicians. There are Billy Joe Saltine, a grinning governor from Georgia; Clarence T. Washington, a congressman from Michigan stitching together a "Neapolitan Coalition," and Rollie South, a retired Marine known as "the general's general."

And there is, of course, Boomer Littlefeet, whose cartoon-face looks a lot like Gerald R. Ford's.

Boomer is described as a former star quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners and then the Denver Broncos. He is the most charismatic candidate in "Road to the White House." He's also one of the most dimwitted. His campaign slogan initially was "A Sooner for Later."

Then Mr. Perot threatened to enter the race, prompting Mr. Michael to come up with the "more dough than Perot" slogan.

The piquant Mr. Michael, 45, has vast political experience. He was director of communications for Mr. Simon's campaign for president, as well as being Mr. Simon's press secretary when the senator was a congressman from Illinois.

Mr. Michael worked as press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, and as press spokesman for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's presidential campaign in Illinois in 1980 and Michael S. Dukakis' presidential campaign in Ohio in 1988.

Now he is vice president and director of media services for Ogilvy Adams and Rinehart. He is also Boomer Littlefeet's "press flack."

In one press release, Boomer narrows his running-mate choices to Princess Diana, Roseanne Barr and Elvis. Boomer, a pen-and-ink caricature, declares, "For the sake of compatibility, I think it makes sense to choose someone who's been reduced to a cartoon figure by the press."

Mr. Michael's co-worker and "deputy press flack," Lisa McGrady, plans on exhibiting "Road to the White House" at the Atlanticon Gamers' Convention today through Sunday at the University of Maryland's Stamp Student Union at College Park.

"We admit that Boomer is a two-dimensional candidate," Mr. Michael said. "He has height, and he has width. But he has no depth.

"That makes him a lot like some other candidates running for president."

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