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Hello Kitty Runs for President, Readies Art Book and Gallery Show

Hello Kitty is not letting her apparent lack of a mouth (cat got your tongue?), overseas birthplace (London, 1974), or the fact that she is a cartoon character deter her bid for the U.S. presidency. Backed by the political muscle and multi-million dollar profits of Tokyo-based Sanrio, the beloved kitten has officially thrown her hat—well, bow—into the ring as a third-party candidate (“Friendship Party”). She is running on a platform of “friendship, fun, and happiness.” While her policy positions are unclear, campaign t-shirts are available.

An e-mail announcing Hello Kitty’s surprise run quoted the candidate—”You can never have too many friends!”—and encouraged supporters to weigh in on the question of a running mate. Among the Sanrio characters up for the VP slot are Tuxedosam (personable penguin, aristocratic background), My Melody (honest and good-natured bunny, weakness for almond pound cake), and Badtz-Maru (badass penguin, has pet alligator). Facebook-based voting ends on October 31, and the winner will be announced the next day at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., just in time for the Sanrio ticket to mount a last-minute challenge to Obama and Romney.

And if the presidential bid is flop, Hello Kitty will have her art to fall back on. On Sunday, L.A.’s Known Gallery is hosting a one-day exhibition to celebrate the release of Hello Kitty, Hello Art! (Abrams). The hardcover book is a collection of works that feature Hello Kitty and friends as interpreted by contemporary artists such as Gary Baseman, Ron English, CRASH, and Anthony Lister. Many of the works in the book were created for Hello Kitty’s 35th anniversary in 2009 and Sanrio’s 50th anniversary in 2010, but a few artists have been invited to create new interpretations of Sanrio characters to celebrate the book’s release—and, taking a page from the Obama playbook, give her presidential campaign an artful boost.

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