Washington: August 20, 2008 - IR Summary/NYT- To rebut John McCain in a series of commercials, Senator Barack Obama has started a continued and hard-hitting advertising campaign against him, which he thinks is vital for him to gain more attention towards his campaign.
Mr. Obama has begun the drive with little fanfare, often eschewing the modern campaign technique of unveiling new spots for the news media before they run in an effort to win added (free) attention.
Mr. Obama, whose candidacy has been built in part on a promise to transcend traditional politics, is running the negative commercials on local stations even as he runs generally positive spots nationally, during prime-time coverage of the Olympics.
The negative spots reflect the sharper tone Mr. Obama has struck in recent days on the stump as he heads into his party’s nominating convention in Denver next week, and seem to address the anxiety among some Democrats that Mr. Obama has not answered a volley of attacks by Mr. McCain with enough force.
“If you can go quietly negative, that’s what he’s done; I think the perception is that he’s still running the positive campaign,” said Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group of TNS Media Intelligence, which monitors political advertising. “It’s a pretty smart, high-low; good cop/bad cop strategy.”
In Philadelphia; East Lansing, Mich.; Green Bay, Wis.; and at least five other major cities, Mr. Obama is heavily showing an advertisement contrasting a statement by Mr. McCain that “we have had a pretty good, prosperous time with low unemployment,” with appearances by people making statements like, “The prices of gas are up; the prices of milk are up.”
Mr. McCain’s statement was from a debate in January, before the economy took several turns for the worse, and did not include the senator’s acknowledgment of “a rough patch.” Mr. McCain has since run an advertisement going so far as to say, “We’re worse off than we were four years ago.”
In Des Moines; Tampa, Fla.; Paducah, Ky., and at least 10 other cities, Mr. Obama is running a spot for a mock book, “Economics” by John McCain: “Support George Bush 95 percent of the time; keep spending $10 billion a month for the war in Iraq.”
On Sunday alone, Mr. Obama’s campaign spent nearly $400,000 to run those two spots more than 600 times, accounting for roughly two thirds of the commercials he ran that day, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group.
Nearly 85 percent of Mr. McCain’s 650 spots that day featured attacks against Mr. Obama, according to the service, which reports that Mr. Obama has spent $48 million on advertisements in the last two months and that Mr. McCain has spent $34 million, with the Republican National Committee spending another $3 million.
Until recently Mr. Obama had primarily run positive commercials promoting his vision, and his latest offensive is his first major volley of spots against Mr. McCain that was not in response to an attack from him or the Republican Party.
All told, Mr. Obama’s campaign has released at least six television commercials and two radio spots against Mr. McCain in the past two weeks, all of them with an overwhelmingly economic message and some tailored to issues in specific states.
The strategy is in keeping with predictions from strategists in both parties this summer that Mr. Obama would eventually press his financial advantage over Mr. McCain by running a more positive set of commercials on national broadcast television and a concurrent, harder-hitting set of spots in the states.
“It’s ‘game on, the money’s in the bank, we’re going to have a huge financial advantage, let the McCain campaign chase us around the country, if they can find us,’ ” said Steve McMahon, a Democratic advertising strategist.
Mr. Obama has complemented his advertising this week with a newly aggressive tone on the stump. Campaigning in California and Florida in the last few days, he has criticized Mr. McCain as challenging his patriotism, for saying Iraqis would greet Americans as “liberators” in 2003, and as embracing a negative brand of politics in general.
But Mr. Obama’s advertising has increasingly included spots that, like those from Mr. McCain, have been called negative and misleading by independent media analysts like FactCheck.org, part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsyvania.
Until last week, the organization had mostly focused on misleading claims by Mr. McCain. He has consistently misrepresented the particulars of Mr. Obama’s tax and energy policies, claiming, for instance, that he will raise taxes on families making $42,000 a year — a nonbinding resolution he voted for would amount to a $15 increase on individuals with such income — and that Mr. Obama opposes nuclear energy (he does not). Full