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Barack Obama, Domestic Issues, Health Care, John McCain, Radio Ad, Television Ad

Monday, October 20, 2008 12:15 PM

Fresh from raising a record $150 million in September, Barack Obama hit the airwaves Friday with his latest salvo against John McCain's health care policy.

"First we learned he's going to tax health care benefits to pay for part of it," the narrator says in "It Gets Worse" (subscription). "Now the Wall Street Journal reports John McCain would pay for the rest of his health care plan 'with major reductions to Medicare and Medicaid.'"

The McCain campaign has vigorously denied the TV spot's contention that the Arizona senator would cut seniors' benefits, and the New York Times questioned some of the ad's claims, suggesting they're based on "assumptions that are stitched together from news reporting and rough back-of-the-envelope calculations by a partisan policy group," the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Obama also released a radio spot in Florida Thursday accusing McCain of wanting to cut NASA funding, an argument that turns on McCain's proposal to enact a spending freeze to close the budget deficit.

McCain "wants to freeze NASA spending at last year's level," says Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., in the ad. "So layoffs would loom larger, and NASA would continue to be starved of funds for future exploration."

For his part, McCain visited the state Friday and promised $2 billion in additional funding for the space agency, arguing that Obama is the one who would cut NASA's budget. The Democrat once proposed delaying the Constellation program, which would return humans to the moon, to pay for his education plan.

Health Care, John McCain

Thursday, October 9, 2008 1:30 PM

John McCain's health care plan has come under scrutiny of late, with two third-party groups releasing similarly fashioned ads that claim he would leave millions of Americans uninsured.

On Wednesday, Health Care For America Now -- a coalition of labor groups, liberal activists and health care organizations -- released "Fighter" (subscription), which asks McCain whether he's on the side of insurance companies or voters. In the spot, a woman laments that "under John McCain's health care plan, 20 million people could lose their insurance at work -- I could be one of them. And with a pre-existing condition like cancer, I couldn't get coverage on my own." She then incredulously asks: "He wants me to fight cancer and the insurance companies? Fine. I'll take you both on."

A United Auto Workers ad released Tuesday voices similar concerns, charging that McCain plans to get rid of tax incentives for employer-sponsored coverage. In "Nicole -- We Can't Afford John McCain" (subscription), an auto worker worries about how her son, Trevor, is going to receive health care for his asthma under the Arizona senator's plan. "John McCain is going to tax our health benefits. We'd have to pay up to $2,800 a year," Michigan resident Nicole Lowe says. "My company could pay higher taxes, too. They could just walk away from health care. We could lose our benefits."

"It's an absolutely atrocious plan," said Jacki Schechner, national communications director of Health Care For America Now. "There's really no other way to put it." UAW public relations director Roger Kerson agreed: "It's a very radical plan to change how health care is delivered to more than 160 million people."

Continue reading Third Parties Rip McCain Over Health Care Coverage

Barack Obama, Health Care, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Monday, October 6, 2008 5:31 PM

As John McCain's campaign seeks to shift the presidential race away from pocketbook issues, Barack Obama is keeping the focus on the kitchen table. The Illinois senator's camp is striking on health care, hitting the topic repeatedly on the campaign trail and charging in several new TV spots that McCain's plan would cost working families more and amount to the largest tax increase ever for many of them.

Obama began the onslaught last week with "Prescription" (subscription), which portrays McCain's explanation of his plan as a half-truth. "John McCain talks about a $5,000 tax credit for health care," but "he's not telling you" the whole story, the announcer says. The Arizona senator's plan calls for employees to "pay income tax on your health insurance benefits, taxing health benefits for the first time ever." What's worse, the ad says, the revenue from those taxes "goes straight to the insurance companies." The announcer concludes that McCain's plan resorts to "taxing health care instead of fixing it." (PolitiFact, a joint project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, scores the ad as "barely true" for its claim that McCain's plan would leave people on their own, noting that "there's ample evidence to show that the plan would be a wash for most workers.")

"One Word" (subscription) conveys a nearly identical message, labeling the McCain health care plan "a multitrillion-dollar tax hike, the largest middle-class tax increase in history." The announcer goes on to warn viewers that a McCain administration "could cost your family thousands" in additional health care costs.

Meanwhile, in "Coin" (subscription), Obama claims that while he would increase coverage for routine treatments, McCain would "deregulate the insurance giants, letting them bypass patient protections in your state." Furthermore, whereas Obama would require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, "McCain would let them continue to do as they please." Playing on the image of a flipped coin, the announcer asks, "Isn't your health care too important to be left to chance?"

Obama is also getting an assist from the Service Employees International Union, a labor group that has endorsed him and run several ads promoting his candidacy.

"Worried Sick" (subscription) features two women walking through the grocery store, discussing the difficulties one of them is facing after her husband has undergone surgery. "I don’t know how we’re going to pay all the bills," she frets, adding: "We’ve got insurance, but it doesn’t seem to cover much." If voters are "worried sick about health care costs" now, an announcer interjects, "John McCain's plan won’t help."

SEIU is running the ad in battleground states Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Barack Obama, Health Care, Television Ad

Friday, October 3, 2008 12:50 PM

Barack Obama began airing a new TV spot (subscription) today that features arguably Joe Biden's best sound bite from last night's debate, challenging Sarah Palin's statements on health care.

During Thursday night's forum, Biden criticized John McCain's plan to give families a $5,000 tax credit for health care because it would mean taxing employer health plans. "Taxing your health care benefit," he said. "I call that the ultimate 'Bridge to Nowhere.'"

The line, a thinly veiled jab at Palin's onetime support for the now-infamous Gravina Island Bridge -- a.k.a. the "Bridge to Nowhere" -- drew a laugh from the otherwise well-behaved crowd at Washington University in St. Louis last night.

"Can't Explain" is the second Obama spot this fall to make use of debate footage: The Illinois senator hit the airwaves last week with an ad highlighting the fact that McCain did not use the phrase "middle class" in their first debate. McCain produced an ad mocking Obama for agreeing with the Arizona senator a number of times in their first meeting, but that spot was released on the Web only.

Health Care, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, July 23, 2008 4:28 PM

Going into this election, John McCain might have considered the senior vote a safe play. After all, the 71-year-old GOP senator falls into that age bracket himself, regularly cashes in his retirement checks and leads Barack Obama among voters 65 and older in recent polls.

But a senior advocacy group is aiming to separate the Arizona lawmaker from those voters in light of comments he made a couple weeks ago calling Social Security a "disgrace.” The comments prompted the Alliance For Retired Americans, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, to launch two TV ads in the battleground state of Pennsylvania that call McCain out for shunning Social Security while reaping the benefits.

Continue reading Social Security Give And Take

Health Care, John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, July 17, 2008 1:55 PM

For Planned Parenthood, John McCain's silence speaks volumes. In a new ad (subscription) released Wednesday, the organization re-airs footage of an interview last week in which McCain paused for nearly 10 seconds before responding to a reporter's question on whether it was fair for insurance companies to cover Viagra but not birth control.

The 30-second spot devotes almost a third of its time to McCain's pause, which is followed by his delayed reply: "I don't know enough about it to give you a informed [sic] answer."

Continue reading McCain's Birth Control Blooper

Health Care, Television Ad

Wednesday, July 9, 2008 12:43 PM

John McCain and Barack Obama have pledged to reform America's health care system if elected. A new coalition of labor groups, liberal activists and health care organizations called “Health Care For America Now!” is prepared to spend millions over the course of the next year to hold the candidates to their word.

The umbrella group -- which includes the Service Employees International Union; the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; Americans United for Change; Center for American Progress Action Fund; and, among many others -- held a news conference in Washington, D.C., and rallies in 52 cities on Tuesday to kick off a campaign designed to make health care reform the top domestic priority for the next administration. The group launched the first of what it says will be several TV ads, as it plans to spend about $25 million on paid advertising between now and the end of the year.

"Will They?" (subscription) features several average-looking Americans asking a Magic 8-Ball if their health care plan will meet their needs. "Will they pay for his inhaler?" a mother asks, sitting next to her son. "Not likely," the ball predicts. An announcer poses the underlying question: "Will health insurance companies ever put your health before their profits?" "Not a chance," the Magic 8-Ball says. The ad declares that "we can’t trust insurance companies to fix the health care mess" and that it is time for Americans to "demand quality, affordable health care" by joining the campaign.

Continue reading Concentrating And Asking Again

Economy, Health Care, Television Ad

Thursday, July 3, 2008 12:48 PM

Barack Obama and John McCain have had a lot to say during this election about fixing a wobbly economy and an imperfect health care system. AARP is devoting $20 million to holding them accountable for their promises. The organization’s message to the potential commanders in chief: When it comes to health care and financial security, Americans need less talk and more action.

AARP has joined with Business Roundtable, the Service Employees International Union and the National Federation of Independent Business to create the Divided We Fail campaign, dedicated to "engaging the American people, businesses, non-profit organizations, and elected officials in finding bi-partisan solutions to ensure affordable, quality health care and long-term financial security -- for all of us," according to the Web site. As part of the campaign, AARP on Wednesday launched "Real Solutions" and "More Than Talk" (subscription), two TV ads that will run off and on until Labor Day.

Continue reading A Little Less Conversation

Health Care, Radio Ad, Television Ad

Wednesday, July 2, 2008 2:40 PM

In response to Medicare legislation that stalled in the Senate (subscription) last week, two major health care organizations -- the American Medical Association and America's Health Insurance Plans -- are running dueling ads through the Fourth of July weekend.

The bill, H.R. 6331, would have blocked a 10.6 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements to doctors. The cuts, which were supposed to go into effect Tuesday, have been put on a temporary hold in order to give Congress another chance at blocking the pay cuts when it returns from recess next week.

The AMA's ad buy, launched Tuesday, includes TV and radio ads appearing in six states. Designed to bolster support for the measure, the ad campaign targets 10 Republican senators (seven facing re-election) who voted against it, including New Hampshire's John Sununu (subscription).

Continue reading Medicare Fireworks

Governor Race, Health Care, Television Ad

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 3:32 PM

Who cares about having faith in God, supporting family values, banning partial-birth abortions or other traditionally conservative issues when you've got Viagra to fight about?

That's what the two GOP candidates in the Missouri governor's race think is important as they take jabs at one another's voting records on this atypical, albeit stimulating, election topic. State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and Rep. Kenny Hulshof each claim the other has supported legislation that would use taxpayer money to fund Viagra pills. The quarrel was initially confined to their recent debates. But the Steelman campaign has taken it one step further with the new ad (subscription) it released Tuesday.

"Viagra. That little blue pill used to enhance recreational sex. If you’re on Medicaid or Medicare, the federal government pays for it," an announcer says, while highlighting Hulshof's voting record on the issue. The ad then contrasts the position of current Gov. Matt Blunt, who the ad quotes as opposing a "frivolous use of taxpayer dollars." The announcer concludes, "Congressman Hulshof disagrees. His Washington thinking? Viagra for all, and taxpayers pay for it."

The new ad is Steelman's second attack on Hulshof's voting record. The other one (subscription), released June 11, sticks to a more PG-rated topic, calling him out more generally regarding his "wasteful spending record" in Congress.

Health Care, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, May 5, 2008 11:30 AM

While his two Democratic opponents have talked mostly about the struggling economy in their recent paid media, John McCain continues to focus on health care, releasing his second ad on the subject in a week.

"Health Solutions," which debuted across Ohio on Friday, ticks off McCain's health proposals, from allowing importation of prescription drugs to ending "junk lawsuits that tax consumers." Like his previous spot on the subject, "Health Solutions" is heavy on specific policy plans -- a departure from McCain's earlier biographical ads.

The ad opens boldly with the words "President McCain" appearing onscreen with a slow-motion shot of the Arizona senator striding confidently, segueing into an announcer listing McCain's "bold solutions" over a jittery, futuristic-looking background. By playing up his health care plans with phrases like "bold solutions" and "straight talk," the ad injects some energy into what could be a dry laundry list of wonky details.

Continue reading McCain Tries To Liven Up Health Care Debate

Health Care, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 12:04 PM

Just hours after John McCain released an advertisement touting his proposals for improving health care, the Service Employees International Union put out its own spot criticizing his approach. Both ads were timed to coincide with McCain's address on health care today.

The union, which has endorsed Barack Obama, is airing "Feeling The Pain" statewide across Ohio as well as in D.C. In the ad, Ohio health care workers say they doubt McCain will curb rising expenses. "John McCain says he'll lower health care costs, but when it comes to making health care affordable here in Ohio, we'll still be feeling the pain," a succession of women in scrubs remark.

Besides criticizing McCain for, among other things, opposing the State Children's Health Insurance Program, "Feeling The Pain" uses file footage of a campaign rally to link McCain to President Bush. Twice, viewers see a black-and-white clip of Bush hugging McCain and kissing him on the head as an announcer lists the times the presumptive Republican nominee has supported Bush's health care policies.

Continue reading A Kiss-Off For McCain's Health Care Plan

Health Care, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 10:37 AM

Iowans still recovering from the frenzy of the presidential caucuses might be surprised to turn on their TVs this week and find the race has already returned.

John McCain's campaign today announced it would begin running a 60-second spot in the Hawkeye State focusing on McCain's health care plan. In "Health Care Action," a sedate McCain proposes solutions to help Americans pay for the rising cost of health care, including a $5,000 tax credit for every family. "There's many, many solutions to this problem," he says. "I think we can address them."

The spot complements McCain's focus on health care this week, echoing his campaign's message of the moment just as his last ad on the economy immediately followed a key address on the economy and his series of bio spots appeared during his biographical publicity tour.

Iowa might not be the most obvious place to run a general election ad, but McCain's advisers have said they're not planning to run a traditional presidential campaign. By airing the spot in Iowa's inexpensive TV markets, the Arizona senator could pick up some discounted national media coverage if cable news networks pick up the story. And by targeting voters in a possible swing state, McCain is establishing himself early in what could be an expanded field of purple states, while also making amends for largely skipping the caucuses there.



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