The presidential nomination battle is slowly creaking to a close, which means we’re running out of opportunities to assemble this year’s collection of primary stock images — that dazzling array of facial expressions and hand motions that each candidate seeking to become leader of the free world is constitutionally mandated to perform for us. They point in more directions than a clock and feign enthusiasm with abandon. Their chief weapons are a complete lack of surprise, fear, and an almost fanatical devotion to giving thumbs-ups — the subject of today’s photo gallery. We’ve paired each valiant attempt to convey that everything is fine with recent bits of reality that were made to be covered up by sunny hand gestures, so you can better ascertain the effectiveness of their aerial digits.
The Ted Cruz thumbs-up: For those moments when your campaign says, "Make no mistake, Indiana is absolutely pivotal" even when you are way down in the polls, and suddenly have to pretend like California is the most important state and that you could definitely still be president.
The Bernie Sanders thumbs-up: Comes in handy when you’re pushing even harder to get superdelegates to flip to your side, even though you’d still be behind with their help. Also useful when your fundraising goes down and you still want to argue that becoming the nominee is "a tough road to climb, but not an impossible road to climb."
The Hillary Clinton thumbs-up: For those times when your opponent says that even if he doesn’t get enough delegates, this game of musical chairs could drag on until July, when a "contested convention" will take place.
The Clinton thumbs-up special: Only to be used in emergencies.
The Donald Trump thumbs-up: To be deployed when you lose a bunch of delegates in a state you handily won. Again.
The Donald Trump thumbs-up/Blue Steel combo play: For when most of the country hates you.
The Jeb-up!: For when everyone remembers that you haven’t won an election since 2002, but you also get to have your advisor be quoted in the New York Times as saying "Hahahahahahahahaha" when asked if you would ever consider being Trump’s VP.
The Marco Rubio thumbs-up, face down: When you lost and haven’t endorsed anyone because you know it would be worthless. Or for those times when you realize that the only power you have left in this election is your delegates. You only won 171 delegates, and pretending that everything is OK is hard.
The John Kasich double thumbs-up: For when you don’t want anyone to realize that Rubio still has more delegates than you.
The Mitt Romney thumbs-up: For when you want to distract everyone from the fact that your speech didn’t work, even though you said Trump was "very, very not smart," by making a terrifying face that would cause a hungry jaguar to sprint away in fear. Offset the forceful facial expression with a thumbs-up that says, "I am still hopeful about my political future."
The Scott Walker thumbs-up: When you want everyone to know that you’re OK even though you haven’t tweeted about ham since last August.
The Ben Carson thumbs-up: For when you still want people to think you like Trump even though the best thing you can say in his favor is that "people who are very ambitious and who will do whatever it takes in order to achieve their goal are people that probably should not be president of the United States."
The Rick Perry thumbs-up: For when you tell The View that you’re going to vote for Trump if he’s the nominee, even though you still believe what you said back in the fall when you dropped out: "We cannot indulge nativist appeals that divide the nation further. The answer to our current divider-in-chief is not to elect a Republican divider-in-chief."
The John McCain thumbs-grimace: When the GOP nomination comes down to a person you called a "wacko bird" and someone who said you weren’t really a war hero, but you still have a potentially miserable reelection fight to care about.