“Is This the Face of a Prime Minister?”

Character attacks can backfire, damaging the attacker instead of the intended victim. During the 1993 Canadian federal election campaign, the Tories launched an attack against Liberal leader Jean Chrétien. In their ad, they showed images of Chrétien’s facial deformity, while the voice-over asked: “Is this the face of a prime minister?” Due to the public outrage that ensued – apparently orchestrated by the Liberal party itself! – the ad had to be pulled off the air within 24 hours. Moreover, Chrétien seized the opportunity to play the victim card and gave a moving speech about the burden of living with a physical defect.

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