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Foreign Policy, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 4:20 PM

Vets for Freedom, a conservative-leaning organization of combat veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, has expanded the ad buy for its TV spot "Skipped" (subscription), putting it on the airwaves in Colorado and Ohio this week. The ad criticizes Barack Obama for holding no oversight hearings on Afghanistan and not spending more time in Iraq.

One of the targeted states -- Colorado -- is among the five that John McCain's campaign is reportedly pulling back from this week. The Politico reported today that the chances of a third-party, Swift-Boat-style attack on Obama are dimming. But there does seem to be a pattern developing of outside groups stepping into battleground states as McCain steps out.

Foreign Policy, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 4:47 PM

Vets For Freedom, an organization of combat veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is targeting Barack Obama in a new TV ad for what the group says is his failure to lead on the two conflicts.

Opening with an image of a smiling Obama lounging in a chair behind his desk, "Skipped" (subscription) notes Obama's high absentee rate in the Senate – he missed 45 percent of votes -- but says that "he did manage to show up to vote against emergency funding for our troops." The announcer goes on to criticize the Illinois senator for not holding any hearings as the chairman of the Senate oversight committee on Afghanistan. And he points out that Obama has traveled to Iraq only twice, while during the course of the presidential race he visited Iowa 45 times.

Brian Bowers, an Iraq war veteran, appears on screen at the end urging viewers to call Obama and ask him to support Senate Resolution 636. The bill, sponsored by two of John McCain's closest surrogates, Sens. Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., calls for the recognition of the success of the troop surge in Iraq.

The accusation against Obama regarding troop funding came up in the first presidential debate, where Obama defended his vote as a reflection on his position seeking a timetable for withdrawal. "Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn't believe in a timetable," Obama pointed out. "I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open-ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops." Factcheck.org, meanwhile, reported in response to a McCain campaign ad released in July that while Obama did cast one "no" vote on legislation providing money for combat efforts, he voted at least 10 times in favor of increased funding.

As for the committee Obama chairs, it does not, in fact, have direct oversight of the war in Afghanistan. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on European Affairs does have jurisdiction over NATO affairs, and NATO has played a large role in the conflict. But hearings on Afghanistan have been held in front of the full Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Obama's running mate, Joe Biden. ABC News reported in July that Obama has attended one of the three full committee hearings on Afghanistan held within the last two years, while McCain has missed all three.

"This is a despicable distortion of Senator Obama's record," spokesman Nick Shapiro said. "Senator Obama has been a forceful advocate for our service members, passing legislation that ensured our wounded warriors receive the care and treatment they deserve, fighting to end disparities in veterans health care benefits, and proposing a plan to revitalize our military to meet the threats and challenges of the 21st century."

Foreign Policy, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Thursday, September 25, 2008 4:00 PM

The ONE Campaign against global poverty hit the airwaves today with a TV spot (subscription) calling for John McCain and Barack Obama to address worldwide hunger and disease at the presidential debates.

The nonprofit humanitarian group, which was co-founded by U2 front man Bono, has spent a little over $700,000 to air the ad on national cable to correspond with Friday’s debate. The only problem? McCain's announcement that he's "suspending" his presidential campaign this week because of the economic crisis has thrown the future of that debate into jeopardy.

But ONE insists its message has no expiration date, even if the original intention was to tie their message to an event that attracts tens of millions of viewers. "When the debate does go forward, if it occurs tomorrow or it occurs at the some other time, the issue will still be relevant," said ONE spokeswoman Kimberly Cadena.

Even if the Friday debate goes off as planned, cutting through the media buzz about the ongoing economic crisis may be difficult. In speeches at the Clinton Global Initiative conference this morning, both McCain and Obama focused their remarks on the Wall Street meltdown, and media reports after the fact largely ignored their comments on combating malaria and reducing global poverty.

But, echoing Obama's recent comments that presidents must be able to multitask, Cadena said voters can pay attention to more than one issue at a time. "Voters have been dealing with several different challenges both at home and abroad during this election season," she said. "And they've maintained a level of interest in these problems throughout."

This is not ONE's first foray into presidential politics: The group paid $1.8 million in December to air a similar ad in Iowa and New Hampshire during the primaries, and also ran a second spot featuring actor Matt Damon days before the Democratic convention last month.

Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, September 19, 2008 4:53 PM

John McCain countered Barack Obama's tough Spanish-language TV ad this week with one of his own today.

Two days after Obama came out with "Dos Caras," McCain countered with "Obama-Chavez" (subscription), which juxtaposes footage of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denouncing the U.S. with Obama's comments last year that he would meet with Chavez soon after becoming president.

The ad shows Chavez at a rally, reproaching the U.S. with some profanity bleeped out. In translation: "Go to h*ll, you filthy Yankees!" and "We, you filthy Yankees, know that we are resolute to be free, no matter what happens, and at any cost!" The announcer asks viewers: "Do you believe we should talk with Chavez?... In November, you decide." At a CNN/YouTube primary debate in July 2007, Obama said he would meet "without preconditions" and within the first year of his administration with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela -- a remark he has taken heat for ever since.

McCain is coming off an international gaffe of his own; he recently said he would not promise to meet with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, going so far as to lump him in with Chavez and other Latin American leaders known for their traditionally hostile relationships with the U.S.

"Obama-Chavez" is running in the battleground state of Florida. That also happens to be where Obama is touring today -- and where the Illinois senator took a salvo from Republican Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart over "Dos Caras," which links McCain to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and President Bush's "failed policies."

"It is offensive and dishonest for Barack Obama to lie about John McCain's record on immigration and years of support for the Hispanic community when it was Barack Obama himself who voted for 'poison pill' amendments that killed the effort at immigration reform," Diaz-Balart said in a statement. "Instead of making false ads with baseless attacks, Barack Obama should be apologizing to the Latino community."

Foreign Policy, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Monday, August 25, 2008 6:31 PM

With thousands of reporters and political bigwigs in Denver and the Twin Cities for the next two weeks, the Israel Project is hoping to seize the moment for a message underscoring the importance of a nuclear-free Iran.

The nonpartisan advocacy group is running two TV spots in both markets during the national conventions. "Nuclear Iran," the harder-hitting of the two, opens with an unsettling comparison: "Imagine Denver under missile attack from nearby Boulder." The ad goes on to explain that Israel faces those kinds of attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah, funded in part by Iran. Israel Project President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said likening Iranian nuclear attacks to one here at home helps reiterate how imminently the issue should be dealt with. "People already understand the threat but the urgency of the threat is something we’re trying to bring home by pointing out the facts of what the outcome could be if we do nothing," Mizrahi said. The group is planning to run another version of this spot during the GOP convention with a Minnesota-specific reference.

The other ad, "Partners In Renewable Energy," stresses how energy independence from the Middle East would lead to a peaceful Israel while encouraging investment in renewable energy. "Israel and America. Partners in a changing world. That means a commitment to freedom, including freedom from giving our gas dollars to the Middle East," the announcer says.

Mizrahi said the sheer number of influential people attending the conventions -- from delegates to world leaders to reporters -- was the impetus behind tailoring the ads to convention attendees. The ads will air more than a thousand times on the major news channels in both convention cities.

"For politics, the conventions are like the Super Bowl plus the Olympics put together," Mizrahi said. "And because this year, more than ever before, I see momentum moving significantly toward helping reduce our dependency on foreign oil.... This seemed like the perfect opportunity, perfect storm, to communicate with the world."

Defense, Foreign Policy, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 5:13 PM

Iraq has taken some of the limelight back from the weak economy this week as both Barack Obama and John McCain have talked up the topic on the presidential trail. Two third-party groups, meanwhile, are up with new ads calling out certain lawmakers on the war.

Vets For Freedom continues its campaign highlighting the success of the surge strategy in Iraq with its latest ad (subscription), launching today in five battleground states. MoveOn.org Political Action, meanwhile, is chastising (subscription) McCain on national cable for not supporting a timetable to withdraw troops from the region.

In the Vets For Freedom spot, called “Some In Washington,” seven veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan call out Washington critics -- specifically Obama and Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb. -- for saying early on that the surge would fail. "Some in Washington told us the war was lost," one veteran says. “Others said the surge would fail,” another asserts. "Today, even the harshest critics agree: The surge worked," another one says. The ad concludes by reiterating the message of the group's first ad (subscription): "Finish the job" in Iraq.

MoveOn.org Political Action, on the other hand, isn't too happy about McCain’s rejection of a timetable. In “Timetable,” a narrator says that the Arizona senator is at odds with everyone -- both at home and abroad -- on this issue. "In Chicago, in St. Louis and in Seattle, the American people are demanding a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq," the narrator says. "In Baghdad and Basra and Tikrit, the Iraqi people -- and now the Iraqi prime minister -- are also demanding a timetable. But John McCain doesn't want a timetable."

Continue reading Of Surges And Timetables

Foreign Policy, Television Ad

Monday, July 7, 2008 4:24 PM

As Barack Obama catches heat for "refining" his stance on Iraq, a veterans group has launched a new ad toeing the John McCain line on the war. While the ad does not mention either of the presidential candidates by name, the message is clear: Obama's plan to end the war is misguided.

Vets For Freedom is an organization of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans which, according to its Web site, aims to "educate the American public about the importance of achieving success in these conflicts." The group is embarking this week on a "Four Months, For Victory" media and grassroots campaign, set to run from now until Veterans Day, highlighting what it claims has been the "phenomenal success" of the surge strategy in Iraq .

"Finish The Job" (subscription), which kicks off the media blitz, features six veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, as well as a mother whose son is still in Iraq, explaining "the facts" on the ground. "Casualties are at an all-time low," one vet states, while another adds, "Al Qaida in Iraq is decimated." A quote from a Washington Post editorial also appears on screen, stating that "the Iraqi government and army have gained control."

Continue reading Vets For McCain?

Foreign Policy, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, June 9, 2008 3:45 PM

In John McCain's first major ad buy (subscription) of the general election, he highlights his family's tradition of military service while distancing himself from hawks who would talk "tough or romantically about war." The ad debuted Friday in nearly a dozen crucial battleground states, where McCain hopes to woo former supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton before party lines reharden.

The ad maintains an appropriately somber tone throughout, positioning McCain's face in shadows and showing black-and-white images of his family in war over a soundtrack of mournful strings. It stresses that military experience -- something the GOP has repeatedly said its young Democratic opponent lacks -- is crucial to lead a country during a time of war. "I hate war. And I know how terrible its costs are," McCain says near the end of the spot. "I'm running for president to keep the country I love safe."

Continue reading Playing It 'Safe' In The Swing States

Foreign Policy, Television Ad

Thursday, June 5, 2008 5:30 PM

The Middle East has been in the limelight this past week as top world and national leaders gathered for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference in Washington, D.C. Among those who spoke on Israel and peace in the Middle East were Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert [PDF], as well as presidential candidates Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton. One topic has received particular scrutiny at the conference -- Iran and the threat of nuclear weapons.

Nonprofit group The Israel Project released two TV ads on Sunday that capitalize on the attention Israel has been receiving amid the conference, which concluded Wednesday. The first ad (subscription) urges U.S. involvement in Iran. "Isn't it time for the U.S. to use strong economic diplomacy to peacefully stop Iran's nuclear program?" an announcer insists.

The second ad (subscription) focuses on rocket attacks launched against Israel by "Iran-backed Hamas." "Israeli families are being targeted and killed. Children run from playgrounds to bomb shelters," an announcer says. "When will the rockets stop so both sides can live in peace?"

Continue reading All Eyes On Israel & Iran

Foreign Policy, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 4:40 PM

At least John McCain knows what he'll be up against in the general election. With the Democratic candidates otherwise occupied and six months to go before the presidential vote, there are already two ads on the air that use McCain's "100 years" remarks on Iraq to paint him as a standard-bearer for President Bush's policies.

MoveOn.org today announced the launch of "Candles," which uses the image of a birthday cake with a century's worth of burning candles to characterize McCain's plan for Iraq as dangerously open-ended. "One hundred years in Iraq?" an announcer says. "And you thought no one could be worse than George Bush." "Candles" joins a similar spot put out earlier this week by the Democratic National Committee.

MoveOn is running the ad on nationwide cable, as well as in New Mexico and Iowa -- two likely swing states where McCain has already begun airing general election ads. Republicans have protested that Democrats and outside groups are taking McCain's remarks out of context, but they may have to get used to it. The fact that two ads are already deploying the "100 years" charge against him suggests the soundbite -- as well as the picture of McCain embracing Bush that closes MoveOn's ad -- will only continue to haunt the Arizona senator in the coming months.

Foreign Policy, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 4:50 PM

The furor over a Democratic National Committee ad that uses footage of John McCain's "100 years in Iraq" comment has only grown since the spot hit national cable stations on Monday. Before the ad was even on the air, the Republican National Committee released a statement castigating the ad's claims as "distortions and smears," and the GOP has only stepped up the pressure in the following days.

In "100," the DNC condenses McCain's answer from a January town hall event in which he compared a long-term presence in Iraq to U.S. policies in South Korea. "Bush has talked about our staying in Iraq for 50 years," begins a questioner in the audience. "Maybe 100," McCain responds. "That'd be fine by me." The spot then shows scenes of chaos in Iraq, suggesting that McCain was referring to 100 more years of war rather than a peaceful U.S. presence. "If all he offers is more of the same, is John McCain the right choice for America's future?" an announcer asks as the ad concludes.

On Monday, RNC Chairman Mike Duncan called on TV stations not to air "100" and accused national Democrats of illegally coordinating their advertising with the party's presidential candidates. Continuing the tit for tat, DNC Chairman Howard Dean defended the ad in a conference call with reporters yesterday, calling McCain "completely out of touch" on the war.

The RNC isn't the only group leveling accusations of illegal coordination between candidates and outside parties. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee filed a petition with the IRS today challenging the nonprofit status of conservative advocacy group Freedom's Watch, which is running attack ads in the ongoing La.-06 special election.

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