At approximately 8:30 pm June 14, a political attack ad ran on MSNBC stations in the Washington, D.C., market.
This in itself was unremarkable. So was the structure and tone of the TV spot: three everyday Americans expressing grave reservations about the suitability of a presidential candidate. But the questions they raised were unusual.
"We want to talk to you about Donald Trump," they said. "If the White House phone rings at 3 am, will his little hands even pick up the receiver? When he decides to launch his nuclear war, will his stubby fingers even be able to push the button all the way down?"
The attack ad was real. So was the Portland-based political action committee that produced it: Americans Against Insecure Billionaires With Tiny Hands.
The PAC has grown from a series of bemused text messages, exchanged between two Oregon political observers watching Trump brag about his hand and penis size, into a multistate independent expenditure campaign drawing admiring notice from Glenn Beck and The New York Times.
The message remains the same: Trump must release the exact measurements of his hands.
"He's been concerned about this for decades," says Noah Heller, the PAC's senior vice president of hand truth. "Because I think he knows he can't be president with these tiny baby hands. Otherwise, why would he talk about this for 30 years?"
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Jokes about the Trumpian digits date back to the 1990s, when Graydon Carter's Spy magazine rigorously referred to Trump as a "short-fingered vulgarian." But the issue resurfaced in this spring's Republican primary, when Trump responded to locker-room jests by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) by declaring on a debate stage: "I guarantee you there's no problem."
Within hours, Heller, an online marketer who had previously spearheaded a satirical campaign against a ballot measure to authorize a casino in Fairview, joined forces with Henry Kraemer, an organizer for the Bus Federation, the national offshoot of Oregon voter-registration nonprofit the Bus Project. They launched the "Trump Has Tiny Hands PAC" on Twitter, then filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.
The FEC rejected the filing, saying a PAC couldn't ridicule a candidate by name. "To this day, we think that Trump complained," Heller says. They re-filed under a new name, and doubled down.
Heller and Kraemer filmed the TV spot in Northeast Portland in locations that included Alberta Park. It's now nearing 500,000 views on YouTube.
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This week, the PAC hopes to begin hiring field staff. It will soon disclose political contributions that Heller says are in the five figures.
"It's kind of remarkable that this has exploded," Heller says. "At the same time, we know this is an important issue. It reinforces the concern we have about his tiny hands."