CLEVELAND (Reuters) - In an age of social media and sound bites, advocacy groups in Cleveland have turned to the old-fashioned medium of billboards to display messages during the Republican National Convention, from the serious to the ridiculous and shocking.
Among them is an artist’s fanciful rendering of Donald Trump about to kiss former rival Ted Cruz, a poke at a Republican Party platform that would limit gay rights, the sign’s sponsor said.
“Love Trumps Hate. End Homophobia,” reads the billboard featuring Trump and Cruz moving in for a lip-lock.
Elsewhere in Cleveland, there are also chestnuts such as “Don’t Trust the Liberal Media,” and the eternally contentious issue of abortion is the focus of another that says, “How much time will we serve - when the RNC platform makes abortion illegal?”
Some 50,000 visitors are expected in Cleveland for the convention that runs from Monday to Thursday. There Trump, who has selected Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate, is expected to officially accept the Republican nomination for president.
With so many party insiders, activists, lobbyists and reporters descending on Cleveland, political groups have chosen a direct path to their eyeballs.
“Don’t Trust the Liberal Media,” paid for by the Media Research Center, stands beside a highway near the airport and is repeated at least twice more in central Cleveland, where the convention will take place.
Six strategically placed signs around the city depict a group of women in a police-style lineup. The message, sponsored by the National Institute of Reproductive Health, which supports abortion rights, is intended to bring attention to recently passed state laws seeking to limit access to abortion.
“We wanted to use the RNC to raise awareness with the public. We wanted to give the public the facts about what is happening and the laws on the books being quietly passed behind the scenes and the logical conclusion that those laws will put women in jail,” said Andrea Miller, president of the institute.
The Trump-Cruz makeout illustration resembles images of unstated political motives depicting Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that went up in Lithuania and another in Bristol, England, that showed Trump bussing British politician Boris Johnson.
The Cleveland sign was paid for by Planting Peace, a group favoring equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “Planting Peace calls for the immediate change in the Republican Party platform with regard to our LGBT family and LGBT rights,” said Aaron Jackson, president of the group.
The 2016 Republican platform includes a plank called “Preserving and Protecting Traditional Marriage” that calls for marriage to be defined as “a union between one man and one woman.”
About half a mile (one km) east of the convention site is a fake advertisement for a company called “Dick to Dick LLC” that ends with the line, “We’re not going to live forever. So why should the earth?”
The billboard sponsor's website (here) contains more satire including the bon mot, "Need to buy a politician, the Media, or a law? Dick to Dick Executive Consulting is the website for you. If you are interested in buying God, please contact us for today's Market Price."
Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Chizu Nomiyama