Remember when you could smoke on a plane? Or in the movie theater? How about on a presidential campaign video? Herman Cain's chief of staff doesn't seem to know that people don't do that anymore, or they didn't until he brought it back.
A new web video featuring Mark Block blowing smoke while the song "I Am America" plays in the background is generating plenty of buzz from pundits trying to decode the mysterious image.
Block, who joined the campaign in January from Americans for Prosperity, is shown at the end of the one-minute video taking a drag off a cigarette and then blowing the smoke at the camera. The last image of the video is a five second close-up of a serious Cain who then offers a big, sly grin.
"The message behind the ad was to our supporters that we're on a roll, we're excited about what's happening. There was no subliminal message. In fact, I personally would encourage people not to smoke. It's just that I'm a smoker, and so a lot of the people on the staff said, 'Just let Block be Block,'" he told Fox News.
Block added that the momentum is with the Cain campaign in part because the candidate appeals to Americans in between the two coasts. He surmised that's what has propelled the web video as well.
"You walk into a veterans' bar in Iowa and they're sitting around smoking, and yeah, we are resonating with them. I'm not the only one that smokes in America for God's sake. It's a choice that I made, and was at the end of the ad," he said.
The ad begins with Block giving a passionate speech about why he became the chief of staff to the Republican presidential candidate.
"Tomorrow is one day closer to the White House," he said. "I really believe that Herman Cain will put “United” back in United States of America. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn’t be here."
"We've run a campaign like nobody’s ever seen, but then America’s never seen a candidate like Herman Cain," he said.
Block then makes an appeal to viewers to get involved.
"Because together, we can do this, we can take this country back," he said, cueing the music and the smoke.
The video arrives as Cain, a former pizza company executive, continues to maintain his status atop or near the top of the polls. A new CBS/New York Times poll showed Cain in first place in the multi-candidate field with 25 percent of the vote. Mitt Romney follows with 21 percent.
The poll, released Tuesday, surveyed 1,650 adults Oct. 19-24 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who ranked first in the poll last month, drew only 6 percent. Perry is seeking to regain momentum with a new economic plan that allows Americans to choose between their existing income tax rate or a new flat tax rate of 20 percent -- a proposal that conservatives have long embraced.