TIME Election 2016

Here’s Why People in Panda Suits Are Following Chris Christie Around

Zeke Miller

They're 'pander bears'

(AMES, Iowa) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is being tracked by a pair of “pander bears” in Iowa Saturday, who are passing out fliers highlight his shifting positions.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for sending the two people dressed in panda costumes to brave 15-degree temperatures outside a Christie town hall at a bar in Ames, Iowa. Their handout did not list a sponsor, and one of the pandas told TIME, “We’re doing it ourselves.”

Phil Valenziano, the Christie campaign’s state director, walked out of the event to to challenge the protesters, asking who they were working for. When he discovered there was no “Paid for by” disclosure on their materials, he proclaimed for reporters, “That’s a violation!”

The stunt follows in a long tradition of costumed trackers on the campaign trail, both real and fictional.

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