By Scott Pesznecker, Herald Writer
Chris Nandor quickly went from YouTube sensation to centerstage at the Republican party’s presidential debate on Wednesday night.
The bearded Arlington man made a humorous YouTube video of himself wearing a black T-shirt and a baseball cap, strumming a guitar and singing about the Republican presidential candidates. The video has already generated more than 450,000 views on the popular video-sharing site.
“The Dems have just one candidate; Republicans have eight,” he sings in the video.
So, YouTube paid to fly Nandor to St. Petersburg, Fla., for the nationally televised CNN/YouTube debate where he sat near the families of presidential candidates Fred Thompson and Mike Huckabee. He also said in an e-mail that he sat behind actor and Huckabee endorser Chuck Norris.
The network opened the debate by playing Nandor’s music video. CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper stumbled trying to pronounce Snohomish County, but the video drew laughter from the audience and grins from the candidates.
In the YouTube-style debate format, which Democrats used earlier this year, the Republican candidates answered questions asked by people through YouTube videos. Topics included immigration issues and the war in Iraq. The debate was streamed live online.
Nandor, who is chairman of the 39th District Republicans, submitted several videos with questions, such as whether candidates would spend money from the Social Security trust fund. None of his questions were shown during the debate for candidates to answer.
Nandor also is a musician with dozens of YouTube videos, but this one is the most viewed.
He made headlines in 1999 when at age 25 and living in Massachusetts he stuffed an online ballot box with as many as 40,000 votes for Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra in the Major League Baseball All-Star contest. Officials caught him and invalidated the extra votes.
He regularly weighs in on the Sound Politics political blog.
Nandor posted a video of his tour of the CNN broadcast van, and in an e-mail Wednesday afternoon said he didn’t know what would happen at the debates that night.
“I have no idea whether any of my videos will be used,” Nandor said. “We’ll find out soon!”
Reporter Jeff Switzer contributed to this report.
Reporter Scott Pesznecker: 425-339-3436 or email@example.com.