June 13, 2007 -- An amusing, risqué music video, featuring a nubile young woman breathlessly singing her love for presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., appeared on the Web this week. Titled "I Got a Crush on Obama," the song and video took the Obama campaign by surprise and further demonstrated how the democratic nature of the Internet — specifically Internet video on sites such as YouTube — is affecting politics in unpredictable ways.
"Hey, 'B,' it's me," a woman who calls herself "Obamagirl" murmurs amorously into a phone at the beginning of the slow jam. "If you're there, pick up. I was just watching you on C-SPAN."
The song and video (which can be seen HERE) goes on to poke racy fun at the way some voters have responded viscerally to both Obama's charisma and the personal nature of his political appeal.
"You seemed to float onto the floor/Democratic convention 2004/I never wanted anybody more/than I want you," Obamagirl coos.
"Baby, I cannot wait/til 2008/Baby, you're the best candidate," she continues as she walks around New York City in various stages of undress, occasionally posing near life-size pictures of the lanky senator from Illinois.
An Obama campaign official said its team had nothing to do with the video, but otherwise declined to comment.
Regardless of whether your candidate is on the giving or receiving end of the viral videos shaping candidates' images these days, YouTube and similar video-sharing Web sites have emerged, making campaigns even less in control of their message than ever before.
Earlier this campaign season, a pro-Obama advertisement assailing Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., based on Apple's "1984" TV commercial, caused a stir when it came out that the creator of the video worked for the company that runs Obama's campaign Web site, despite Obama's claim that he had no ties to the ad. As of Wednesday afternoon, that video had received 3,393,766 hits on YouTube.
As much as the news may break the hearts of thousands of Democratic men, Obamagirl, in reality, is not the pulchritudinous callipygian who riffs on policy with Akon-esque beats, singing "you're into border security/let's break this border between you and me/universal health care reform/it makes me warm."
Rather, she is a fictitious creation.
The song was performed by Leah Kauffman, a 21-year-old undergraduate at Temple University in Philadelphia, who wrote the lyrics with a friend, 32-year-old advertising executive Ben Relles, and the music with her producer, Rick Friedrich.
An actress/model named Amber Lee Ettinger then lip-synched the song for the video, shot by filmmakers found on Craigslist two hours before Relles and Ettinger hit New York City one Friday in May to shoot the video on a DV camera.
"Not including the hours we spent working on it, it probably cost a couple thousand dollars," said Relles, a graduate of the Wharton School of Business, who said he did it for fun, not money, but is also selling "Obamagirl" and "I Got a Crush on Obama" T-shirts.
Relles said the idea for "I Got a Crush on Obama" came after he and Kauffman received some media notice for a previous collaboration that was a female take on a recent "Saturday Night Live" spoof of boy bands. Both fans of Obama, the two thought it would be amusing to capture, in song, their affection for the candidate at the same time the Clinton camp is holding a campaign song contest on her campaign Web site.
"We were just trying to come up with something funny," said Kauffman, a journalism major, who said the music was influenced by the best of Top 40. "As long as there's a venue for it, we'll probably keep doing it."
Also making waves this year is a video clip of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., briefly singing "Bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann," which garnered more than 850,000 hits. In 2006, a flip remark by then-Sen. George Allen, a Virginia Republican, in which he called an Indian-American Democratic campaign operative a "macaca," posted to the Internet and helped end a once-promising political career.
Relles said his team had no contact at all with the Obama campaign.
"We hope it helps him, though," he adds.