Zut alors! Il parle francais! It matters not that it was a single video recorded a decade ago – Mitt Romney is being skewered in a new Gingrich attack ad for speaking French. According to the TV spot dubbed “The French Connection,” his bilingual ability puts him on par with the liberal flip-flopper who happens to share his home state: John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic candidate. The ad, released online January 12 on Gingrich’s official YouTube account, hopes the two will soon have something else in common: a failed presidential bid.
The subtle accordion music playing in the background is supposed to remind us of Romney’s oft-discussed French connection, his stint traveling the south of France in the 1960s as a Mormon missionary, though his time there appears to have not helped his French accent. The video, recorded in 2002 as a greeting to volunteers at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, features a fluent but noticeably twangy Romney delivering a speech to the camera.
It wasn’t long before the comedians came out to mock Romney’s foreign-language skills. Twitter account @LeVraiMitt (French for “The Real Mitt”) began tweeting January 13, just hours after the ad hit the airwaves. @LeVraiMitt’s profile boasts, “Je suis le best at le job creation.” No tweet is too foreign for even for the most-challenged Francophone.
(As if you really needed a translation, but: “The polls say that Ron Paul is surging. Oh sure—like Santorum’s surge? Give me a break.”)
(“Just like Nietzsche said: that which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”)
Mocking politicians’ attempts at speaking in tongues is a trend first launched by @ElBloombito, a Twitter account that lambasted New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s attempts to speak Spanish as Hurricane Irene swept toward the city. Mitt Romney hasn’t put his French speaking skills to the test in a public forum yet (unlike Jon Huntsman’s frequent Mandarin quips), but thanks to Gingrich’s ad and @LeVraiMitt, we know exactly how he’d sound.