The phone is the political prop of the decade. Politicians hold them up during speeches to tell stories because it’s the ubiquitous little gadget that says, look, I’m just like you and I’m going to talk about Our Modern World™.
Want to give a speech about tech innovation or the lack thereof in America? Hold up that phone. Need to talk about government surveillance as a tool that’s necessary to protect our rights or, conversely, a rotten infringement of those rights? Hold up that phone. Want to... sheepishly joke about how Donald Trump gave out your personal phone number to the entire world? Hold up that phone. I guess. What else are you going to do? Make the most awkward video response of all time? I guess you could do that too.
Practically every politician of the 21st century has held up a phone during a speech. So today we present a list of the current Republican primary candidates, ranked in descending order by how comfortable they look holding up their phone.
There are a few notable people missing from the list. As for Jeb Bush, I could only find a photo of him holding an iPod Nano during a speech in 2008. And Ben Carson? Well, I could literally find just one photo of Carson using a phone of any kind for anything, let alone using one during a speech. And Chris Christie? He’s more of a giant pair of scissors guy.
Scott Walker has a hard time looking cool. That Harley? It looks like you’re trying too hard, bro. Union busting? Not very cool with the kids these days, dude.
Pretty much everything Walker does looks about 15 percent more uncomfortable than the way a normal human being would do it. So it’s no surprise that he’d look a bit uncomfortable here. In this photo Walker looks like that guy at the end of the bar who swears he came up with the idea for that iPhone app where you’re “drinking” a beer by tipping the phone and he’d totally be rich if only he’d patented it.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Okay, well this one is kind of embarrassing, isn’t it? Poor Lindsey Graham. Donald Trump gave Graham’s private cellphone number to the entire world and the Graham campaign had to quickly pretend like he was cool with it. That does not look like the posture nor the face of a man who was cool with it.
Graham went ahead and showed that he had no idea how phones work by filming a “viral” video of him smashing a bunch of phones rather than going down to the store and just changing his number. Graham is smiling, but you know he wants nothing more in the world than to have a good cry. Like we all do, I suppose.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Ted Cruz is not doing well in the polls. Many point to his very bad ideas. Others say he’s just not that likable as a candidate; not the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with, y’know? But there may be another reason for his lackluster showing in the polls that we haven’t yet explored: The way he holds his smartphone during speeches is a bit... off. And by “off” I mean he just looks so damn smug.
Take, for example, the photo above. Standing next to that rotary phone, it’s like Cruz thinks he’s a time traveling policy wonk or something. He’s making some incoherent point about being against net neutrality and how government regulations hinder inventions like the iPhone from evolving. Except for the fact that the only people keeping the iPhone from getting better in any meaningful way at the moment is Apple.
This is the only photo I could find of Fiorina holding up a phone. She was CEO of Hewlett-Packard at the time (2004) and is posing with the Nokia 7710. She may not be giving a speech (and may have driven HP into the ground), but at least she looks cooler with technology than that guy next to her.
Photo by Jacques Munch/AFP/Getty Images
In 2013, after the Snowden revelations came out, Mike Huckabee reportedly told a Houston crowd that he never worries about losing his smartphone anymore. “I’m just going to call the government and say, ‘Hey, where is my phone?’”
Literally everyone in the world has made the same joke since, but it was a solid zinger for the time. And despite the fact that Mike Huckabee is a hateful garbage person with hateful garbage ideas, he sure knows how to use a phone in a speech.
Photo by IB2 News
Honestly, I didn’t even realize those things could make phone calls.
AP Photo/Eric Gay
Unlike Cruz, Marco Rubio holds a smartphone like he knows what he’s doing. Part of this could be generational. At 43 years old, Rubio is the youngest Republican candidate currently running. Or it could be that he’s just a man who’s confident with his technology. Either way, good work, Rubio. Solid phone-handling form.
Photo by The Daily Beast
Donald Trump doesn’t hold up phones to make his point. He holds up phone numbers. Like the time he had some minor beef with Lindsey Graham and gave out the sitting Senator’s private cellphone number. It was a classy move for a handsome winner.
AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton
Do you know who absolutely positively loves holding up phones? Rand Paul. He’ll use his right hand. He’ll use his left hand. He’ll hold up multiple phones in both hands. He doesn’t give a fuck. He’s Rand Paul and he’s got phones that he’s going to hold up.
AP Photo/Ben Margot
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
How many phones can you hold in your hands? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Not as many as Rand Fucking Paul.