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  • 2018 Elections

This Senate Candidate Used an Actual Dumpster Fire to Make a Point About the Trump Administration

2 minute read

Richard Painter, a former White House ethics lawyer keen on impeaching President Donald Trump, used an actual dumpster fire to illustrate his campaign for Minnesota’s U.S. Senate.

“Some people see a dumpster fire and do nothing but watch the spectacle,” Painter said in the ad as a trash fire appeared to burn behind him.

“There is an inferno raging in Washington,” he continued. “But here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, we know how to put out a fire.” And with that, a sheet of water poured down and extinguished the blaze. (The Land of 10,000 Lakes is one of Minnesota’s nicknames.)

Painter, a former Republican who served as chief White House ethics lawyer for former President George W. Bush, is challenging Sen. Tina Smith in the state’s Democratic primary. Smith replaced former Sen. Al Franken, who resigned last year amid allegations of sexual misconduct. Painter recently told TIME his push for impeachment was a central component of his campaign, along with campaign finance reform.

Invoking a dumpster fire in his first campaign ad reflects an image conjured by some Americans starting in 2016. Indeed, the American Dialect Society named “dumpster fire,” defined as “an exceedingly disastrous or chaotic situation,” as the 2016 word of the year.

“As a metaphor for a situation that is out of control or poorly handled, dumpster fire came into prominence in 2016,” the organization said at the time, “very frequently in the context of the U.S. presidential campaign.”

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