In the midst of a heated political season, a hero has emerged. During the town-hall style presidential debate in Saint Louis earlier this week, Ken Bone emerged, as CNN put it, as the “true debate winner.” Audience members were screened by Gallup, then selected by moderators, to ask questions of presidential nominees Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. One of those chosen to participate had been a participant in the poll for several years previous, but had never been selected. This would be his night.
As the “undecided voter in a bright red sweater”, Ken Bone is 34-year-old operator at an Illinois coal plant, who, as of the second debate, was undecided on his presidential pick. As such, he was chosen to ask a question during the televised debate and offered a straightforward question as the broadcast was coming to an end. His question, regarding how the candidates planned to meet energy needs in America, seemed to be thoughtful, even as he stood to face them in his “red power sweater.”
Social media outlets exploded with praise for Mr. Bone, urging readers to follow his lead even as people scrambled to find similar colored sweaters. As CNN notes, he went from seven Twitter followers pre-debate (two of which were his grandmother) to several hundred overnight. To top the night off, Mr. Bone pulled out a camera to capture the moment-a disposable camera, that is.
While his normal life consists of a 12-hour shift at the coal plant, where he works in the control room, his brief television appearance has catapulted him into internet fame overnight. As the NY Times notes, there has been everything from comparisons to George Washington to a YouTube song to celebrate him. Since his question was posed, Mr. Bone has been inundated with requests for interviews and has received hundreds of friend requests on Facebook, in addition to his new Twitter followers.
In addition to love poured out for his apparel, social media users put together “Ken Bone Halloween Costume Kits” on Twitter. Other social media users declared hope found because of one man from Illinois who chose to wear a power sweater and bring along his disposable camera to the 2016 presidential debate. And although he had been leaning toward voting for Trump, he was impressed by Clinton’s composure during the debate. He plans to decide after the final debate has taken place, which is scheduled for October 19th.
In the midst of ugly politics, it appears as though Ken Bone has gained a following of admirers simply because he was being himself. Ironically, Mr. Bone stated in later interviews that the red sweater was not his first choice as he was preparing for the Saint Louis debate. He had planned to don an olive-colored suit, but he ended up splitting the pants that morning. As Plan B’s go, the red sweater was a secondary option. It appears to have served him well.