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John McCain

Thursday, November 6, 2008 12:48 PM

NationalJournal.com's Amy Harder provides analysis of some of John McCain's most memorable TV ads and his overall advertising strategy.

John McCain

Monday, November 3, 2008 12:30 PM

Reviving an ad strategy not employed since July, John McCain's latest ad out Friday, "Freedom" (subscription), features images of a young McCain as a soldier -- and a prisoner of war -- to assert his own patriotism and fortitude.

"I've served my country since I was 17 years old, and spent five years longing for her shores," McCain says in the ad. "I came home dedicated to a cause greater than my own." In another shift from nearly all his recent ads, McCain stays positive, though he does sneak in an implicit jab at Barack Obama's "hope" slogan: "Don't hope for a stronger America. Vote for one."

John McCain

Friday, October 31, 2008 3:59 PM

John McCain is largely absent from three of his latest ads, which instead star two popular members of his own party -- as well as his opponent, Barack Obama.

"Crist" (subscription), released Thursday, features Florida Gov. Charlie Crist touting his support for McCain. The ad stays positive, showering the Arizona senator with praise for being a reformer dedicated to bipartisanship. "Our next president will face enormous challenges. For me, the choice is clear," Crist says. "John McCain is an American hero."

Crist's endorsement couldn't come at a more crucial time. His state, which has leaned Obama since mid-September, has been the recipient of the most ad dollars by both campaigns and the Republican National Committee. According to a new report [PDF] by the Wisconsin Advertising Project, McCain and the RNC spent almost $1.5 million in the Sunshine State for the week of Oct. 21-28, while Obama doled out a whopping $4.6 million there.

A McCain/RNC radio ad released today in Virginia, "Cuts" (subscription), features Sen. John Warner, R-Va., asserting that McCain will protect Virginia's defense industry from "Obama's liberal colleagues in Congress," who he says plan to "cut defense spending by 25 percent." Virginia, another battleground state that started trending blue in mid-September, is also among the states drawing the most ad dollars, according to the Wisconsin Advertising Project.

In addition to Crist and Warner, even McCain's opponent is unwittingly enlisted for the cause in another new ad. "Obama Praises McCain" (subscription) airs footage of the Illinois senator in January 2007 hailing McCain's "outstanding leadership" on greenhouse gas legislation.

Other recent spots released by the McCain camp and the RNC have followed this pattern. Crist previously starred in another McCain/RNC spot, "Spreading The Wealth" (subscription), as did country music star Hank Williams Jr. (subscription).

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 12:01 PM

John McCain is going for his David-and-Goliath moment. Cash-poor and trailing in the polls, the Arizona senator is launching a preemptive strike against Barack Obama's 30-minute prime-time TV address tonight with "TV Special" (subscription).

The ad opens by tweaking Obama with the terms of celebrity rhetoric that McCain used this summer: "Behind the fancy speeches, grand promises and TV specials lies the truth," an announcer says. The spot contrasts pictures of Obama speaking, including his infamous Berlin address, with others that embody the hot-button issues of the election. Images of soldiers, foreclosure signs and rows of cars flash across the screen while an announcer asserts that Obama "lacks the experience America needs. And it shows. His response to our economic crisis is to spend and tax our economy deeper into recession."

The last line of the ad is a notable change from McCain's other spots on the experience theme: "The fact is, Barack Obama's not ready yet." The word "yet" may appeal to those voters who are wary of the Democrat's lack of experience but still like the idea of him in the White House. By ending on that word, McCain is effectively saying that he's the safer bet now without entirely dismissing Obama.

John McCain

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 3:00 PM

Capitalizing on a report in the Israeli press today suggesting that French President Nicholas Sarkozy thinks Barack Obama's stance on Iran is "utterly immature," John McCain is re-releasing an ad that highlights comments the Democrat made in May -- calling the country "tiny" (compared to the former Soviet Union) -- to argue that he is "dangerously unprepared" for the presidency.

For the cash-strapped McCain camp, the re-release of this ad is a cost-effective means of political recycling; jumping on the news peg of Sarkozy's comments (per an anonymous Israeli government source), the campaign can convey a strong message without producing a new ad.

The ad, "Tiny," originally released in "key states" during the Democratic convention, is now running only in "key Florida markets." This is one of the smaller ad buys that the campaign has officially disclosed -- further evidence that McCain is now targeting an ever-smaller list of battleground states he thinks he can win. While Florida was projected to fall into McCain's column earlier in the race, the polling data shows a strong shift toward Obama as of mid- to late September, and he is now besting his GOP opponent in almost all surveys.

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 12:30 PM

John McCain released a new ad this morning, "Compare" (subscription), which adheres to a traditional conservative line of attack -- that the Democratic candidate is a tax-and-spend liberal. With less than a week to go before the big day, this ad by McCain and another by the Republican National Committee attacking Barack Obama on experience suggest the days of ads based on guilt-by-association, gaffes and other more trivial facets of the campaign are gone, as a cash-strapped GOP looks to allocate its funds wisely.

"Compare" juxtaposes various images of the presidential hopefuls with phrases representing their economic plans. The ad references Obama's now-infamous "spread the wealth" comment and Joe Wurzelbacher, as an announcer contrasts the phrase "for workin' Joe's" (and a jovial image of McCain) with "spread your income" (accompanied by a more menacing shot of Obama). The ad concludes with another staple attack on the Democrat: claiming he's a "risky" choice while McCain is a "proven" leader.

"Storm" (subscription), which the RNC released Friday, also returns to a familiar GOP line. The ad likens the financial crisis to a storm, and aims to cast doubt on Obama's ability to lead the nation through "uncertain times." "What if the storm does get worse?" an announcer asks, "with someone who’s untested at the helm?"

No McCain ad has hit Obama this directly on the experience issue in a while, perhaps as a result of the Sarah Palin pick. "Tiny" (subscription), which highlighted comments Obama made over Iran to suggest he is "dangerously unprepared" for the presidency, was released in the middle of the Democratic convention and represents the last straightforward "experience" attack ad issued by the McCain camp. But the issue has been revived in RNC ads, beginning with "Chair" (subscription) on Oct. 16.

While returning to staple attacks, the GOP is also retreating into traditionally conservative territories. The RNC has announced it will start running ads Wednesday in Montana -- a state that gave President Bush nearly 60 percent of the vote in 2004 but is trending more and more toward Obama. "Storm," however, is reportedly airing in the more mainstay battlegrounds like Pennsylvania and Virginia. A request for comment about which RNC ads will run in Montana was not returned.

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Friday, October 24, 2008 6:30 PM

Two women's rights groups -- Winning Message Action Fund and Planned Parenthood -- are taking aim at John McCain 's positions on abortion and health care in a set of new ads.

In "How Much Time" (subscription), Winning Message Action Fund (the advocacy arm of the National Institute For Reproductive Health) demands that both McCain and Sarah Palin -- avid pro-lifers -- elaborate more on the repercussions for women that could ensue if Roe v. Wade is overturned. The spot starts running Saturday in Ohio and Wisconsin during shows that are popular with women, including "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "The Early Show." Images of distraught women posing for mug shots flash across the screen one after another, with an announcer speculating that, under a GOP administration, women could end up in jail if they have an abortion.

Continue reading Women's Groups Reproach GOP Ticket On Abortion, Health Care

John McCain, Radio Ad

Friday, October 24, 2008 12:45 PM

John McCain is receiving on-air endorsements from Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) and country music singer Hank Williams Jr. in two radio ads the campaign recently released with the Republican National Committee.

Both men take jabs at Barack Obama for controversial comments he's made -- recent and not-so-recent. In "Spread The Wealth" (subscription), Crist references what Obama said on Oct. 12 to Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher of Ohio explaining why he wanted to raise taxes for Americans earning higher incomes. "John McCain knows that people don't want to 'spread the wealth,'" Crist tells his Florida constituents. "He knows that Congress should let you keep more of your money, and not take it away."

Another infamous comment -- uttered by the Democrat at a private fundraiser in April -- where he said some rural Pennsylvania voters were "bitter" and "cling to guns or religion," is the focus of "Hank Williams Jr." (subscription). Williams tells listeners the comment proves that Obama "just doesn't understand small-town America." Aiming to pit rural voters against the Democrat, he continues: "We love our God. And we love our guns, especially handed down from our grandfathers. And we resent it when liberals like Obama question our way of life." He concludes by urging voters, "Don't be bitter. Vote McCain."

Williams has been an avid McCain supporter for a while now, even devoting a song to the GOP ticket.

Since both 60-second spots are co-sponsored by the RNC, Crist and Williams occupy just half of the running time in each. By law, these ads must devote at least half of their time to a more general focus. The latter part of both spots give way to attacking "congressional liberals" for their tax-and-spend policies and being "out of touch" with America.

With McCain short on cash, pairing up with the RNC on the radio is a cost-effective measure, but ending on such a generalized tone in each spot may tend to blunt the more pointed attacks made at the beginning. McCain and the RNC did recently discontinue their joint TV ads.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, October 24, 2008 11:15 AM

Once again, a gaffe by Joe Biden has provided ad fodder for the GOP ticket. Biden's comment last weekend that if elected, Barack Obama will be "tested" by an international crisis soon after taking office is the inspiration for an aggressive TV spot released this morning by John McCain.

Over audio of Biden's comments, "Ladies And Gentlemen" (subscription) airs pictures of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, along with marching Hamas soldiers. The style of the ad -- complete with music reminiscent of a classic horror film and blurry, black-and-white images -- aims to stoke fears that a President Obama would not have the experience needed to lead a country through an international crisis. Following up on Biden's statement that "we're going to have an international crisis ... to test the mettle of this guy. I guarantee you it's gonna happen," an announcer responds: "It doesn't have to happen. Vote McCain."

A couple of days after Biden made his comments, Obama sought to clarify what his running mate was presumably trying to say. "I think that his core point was that the next administration is going to be tested regardless of who it is," Obama said. Appearing to back up the Democrat's clarification, MSNBC's First Read cites examples of recent global crises early in a president's first term, including the violence in Somalia under Bill Clinton and the 9/11 attacks under President Bush.

John McCain, Third-Party Ad

Thursday, October 23, 2008 12:59 PM

John McCain's camp and the Republican National Committee have decided to discontinue all co-sponsored TV ads, Advertising Age reported this morning.

This gives McCain more "creative control" over his message, since the joint spots were required by law to divide their focus. That explains the disconnect in many of them, deriding Barack Obama for the first 12.5 seconds and then abruptly switching to a general attack on "congressional liberals."

This also will mean fewer ads overall touting the Arizona senator, whose fundraising lags behind his opponent's by enormous amounts. Indeed, the pace at which the campaign has released ads has fallen off. The camp has only released one ad (subscription) so far this week, compared to its one-a-day routine just a few weeks ago.

McCain has seen ample ad support from the RNC since mid-September. Starting Sept. 18, the number of joint spots (eight) almost matched the single-sponsor ads by both the McCain camp (six) and RNC (three). This correlation and timing shouldn't come as a surprise. Obama, opting out of the public finance system, raised a record $150 million in September. McCain, on the other hand, has been constrained to the $84 million of public money since the first part of September, when those public funds kicked in.

CORRECTION: The original version of this post incorrectly stated what co-sponsored ads will be dropped. McCain and the RNC will continue to produce joint radio spots.

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 5:00 PM

Standing amid smoking rubble, several firefighters vow to "fight" John McCain's health care proposals in a new ad (subscription) released in six battleground states Tuesday by the International Association of Fire Fighters.

"Our job is to risk our lives to protect you and your loved ones. We're proud of that," one firefighter says. "And like you, we need our health care for our families," another says. The men express concern that McCain's plan would replace the existing tax exemption for employer-sponsored health coverage with a refundable tax credit for individuals. "Pay more taxes or lose coverage?" the firefighters ask incredulously. "No thanks!"

The 30-second spot, backed by $500,000, is running in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire and North Carolina. Similar ads that link GOP incumbent Sens. Elizabeth Dole (North Carolina) and John Sununu (New Hampshire) to McCain will run in those two states as well.

"Voters need to know that John McCain's unprecedented plan to tax health care is one of the most unenlightened ideas ever cooked up in Washington," IAFF President Harold A. Schaitberger said in a press release.

"Barack Obama and his supporters should get the facts straight before waging inaccurate attacks against John McCain’s health care proposals," retorted Republican National Committee spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson in an e-mail. "Unlike Obama, John McCain will not punish struggling businesses with increased fines and higher taxes."

The IAFF is certainly not hiding its allegiances in this election; the ad concludes with a bright yellow screen and large text reading: "Fire Fighters For Obama Biden."

John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 11:55 AM

The third presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama had an unexpected winner: Joe Wurzelbacher. "Joe the Plumber" unwittingly drew the media spotlight when he was captured on video having a frank exchange with Obama about taxes a few days before the debate. He has since come to embody the type of voter that the McCain campaign is trying to lure in the final weeks of the campaign -- the "real," hardworking "Average Joe."

Wurzelbacher, whose given first name is Samuel, is not licensed as a plumber, but he hopes to purchase a plumbing company that makes over $250,000 per year. He caught McCain's eye because, under Obama's tax plan, individuals who make over $250,000 would face a tax increase. Thus the McCain campaign has been pushing him as someone whose hard work would be punished, rather than rewarded, under an Obama administration.

McCain launched a new ad (subscription) this morning featuring small-business owners from across the country proclaiming: "I'm Joe the Plumber." It opens with footage of Obama talking to Wurzelbacher on the trail, telling him: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." One man in McCain's ad asks incredulously, "Obama wants my sweat to pay for his trillion dollars in new spending?" The announcer charges, "Barack Obama: higher taxes, more spending, not ready."

The Obama campaign, meanwhile, is running a tongue-in-cheek Web video that stars Ed O'Neill of "Married With Children" fame as "Al the Shoesalesman." Al, who is married with two children, makes $20,000 a year. Visiting taxcut.BarackObama.com, he enters his information into the tax calculator and finds that he would receive a $1,000 tax cut under Obama's plan, while under McCain's he would save nothing. "This is going to be tough," Al says sarcastically, before exclaiming, "Obama!"

Meanwhile, as Obama looks for ways to burn through his massive store of campaign funds, the New York Times reports that the McCain campaign is cutting back its advertising efforts in five states -- Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Wisconsin -- perhaps to concentrate resources in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Barack Obama, Domestic Issues, John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 4:53 PM

Faithful Catholic Citizens is running TV spots in Colorado and Iowa attacking Barack Obama and other Democrats for their support of abortion rights, pouring over $35,000 into two battleground states that polls show may turn blue this year.

With economic turmoil keeping traditional wedge issues like abortion and gay marriage on the campaign back burner, co-founder Tony Likins said his group wanted to redirect the national conversation back to its bread-and-butter issues.

"We've gotten a great response," Likins said. "People keep saying, 'Hooray, where have you been?'"

The latest ad, "Moral Crisis Bailout," addresses Catholic lawmakers in Washington.

"A financial bailout plan to address the economic crisis has been passed, and we pray that it works," the narrator says. "Now we ask you to address the moral crisis in our nation."

Two other (subscription) ads -- both titled "Are You Truly Catholic?" -- hammer Obama for saying that the question of when life begins was "above my pay grade" at Rick Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum on the presidency in August.

"Abortion is intrinsically evil," says the group's co-founder, Heidi Stirrup, in the ad. "It's a non-negotiable issue for Catholics."

If recent polls from Colorado and Iowa are any indication, Faithful Catholic Citizens has a lot of ground to make up. Obama leads John McCain by 5 percentage points in Colorado, according to a FOX News/Rasmussen poll released Monday. A SurveyUSA poll released Oct. 11 showed the Illinois senator with a 13-point lead in Iowa.

The internal numbers also show Obama making inroads with Catholics and abortion opponents. In Iowa, the SurveyUSA poll shows McCain garnering the support of 62 percent of anti-abortion voters, compared to the Democrat's 33 percent. McCain is beating Obama among white Catholics in Colorado 52-41 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Oct. 14.

Continue reading Catholic Group Slams Obama On Abortion

John McCain, Third-Party Ad

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 12:45 PM

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees released two new ads late last week deriding John McCain on veterans legislation and Social Security. The ads feature real veterans and seniors expressing concerns about the senator.

"Security" (subscription), released Thursday, shows seniors worrying that McCain wants to privatize Social Security and effectively put their money "into Wall Street's hands," as one senior puts it. Another asks: "What is he thinking? I'm surprised he's that out of touch" -- an especially critical statement considering these people are in the 72-year-old McCain's peer group.

AFSCME's "Veterans" (subscription), launched Friday, tackles McCain's voting record on veterans legislation, most notably his opposition to the recent GI bill. In the ad, veterans hit the senator on two fundamentals of his campaign message: distinguishing himself from President Bush and touting his maverick, reformer reputation. "John McCain sided with George Bush and opposed the new GI Bill," one veteran says, while another laments that "when John McCain has to choose between his party and better care for veterans, he sides with his party."

The $3 million ad buy covers states the group believes will be pivotal come Nov. 4, according to Ricky Feller, associate director of the political action arm of AFSCME. The Social Security spot is running in Wisconsin, where Obama leads, but AFSCME wants to "make sure it remains blue," Feller said. It's also a state that has a large senior population, he added. The veterans ad is running in another state where Obama currently leads, New Mexico, which Feller said is "part of a whole evolving new West" where demographic changes favor Democrats.

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.

John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, October 17, 2008 10:46 AM

On the heels of the Republican National Committee's announcement that it will focus its ad spending on traditional GOP states where Barack Obama is gaining, like Colorado and Virginia, the RNC and John McCain released a Spanish-language TV spot admonishing Obama and other "congressional liberals" for their tax and health plans, contending that they will hurt small businesses. The TV spot is accompanied by a radio ad with the same transcript.

"Riesgo" (subscription) is running in Colorado, as well as the Hispanic battlegrounds of Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. The ad shows particular concern for small-business owners: "If you own a small business or work for one, you know that more taxes means less jobs, less money in our pockets and less opportunities," the announcer says. "Who's going to hire with so many taxes! Obama and congressional liberals: Too risky for jobs and small business."

Barack Obama, John McCain, Senate Race, Television Ad

Thursday, October 16, 2008 5:00 PM

Updated Friday, Oct. 16, 2008.

The Republican Party's national committees are pulling ads in key presidential battleground states and in a hotly contested Senate race, in just the latest sign of the GOP's sinking electoral fortunes.

The Republican National Senatorial Committee is pulling its ads from the Louisiana Senate race, where state Treasurer John Kennedy's challenge to two-term Sen. Mary Landrieu is considered the GOP's best shot to unseat an incumbent Democrat.

NRSC communications director Rebecca Fisher declined to discuss the timing of the pullout. But Leonardo Alcivar, the Kennedy campaign's communications director, was blunt in his assessment of the Republican committee's decision to withdraw.

"They need to help fund incumbents who two weeks ago were not vulnerable and now are," he said. "It’s a reflection of the national political landscape and not the local political landscape."

Alcivar added that his campaign has already benefited from the NRSC's support, and that Kennedy has the resources to compete with and win against Landrieu in the home stretch.

The most recent poll in that race, a Rasmussen Reports survey released Sept. 27, showed Landrieu with a commanding 54-41 lead over the Republican challenger.

Hannah August, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said the Republican committee's retreat reaffirmed the DSCC's confidence heading toward Election Day.

"They essentially gave up their only alleged seat to pick up," she said. "I think they've realized that Mary Landrieu is in a strong position to win re-election. We've been saying it all along."

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee will stop running presidential ads in Maine and Wisconsin, AP reported Wednesday. The move comes as John McCain's poll numbers continue to slide in the Upper Midwest: Barack Obama leads the Arizona senator by 17 percentage points in Wisconsin, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday. The committee's withdrawal from Wisconsin comes on the heels of McCain's decision to essentially concede defeat in Michigan two weeks ago.

Maine is one of two states that awards its electoral votes along congressional district lines, and McCain hopes to pick off a vote in the relatively conservative 2nd District. Despite the committee's move, the McCain campaign isn't writing the Pine Tree State off yet: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin rallied supporters in Bangor this morning and hinted at her campaign's desire to nab one of the state's electoral votes.

UPDATE: The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reports that the NRSC is also planning to pull its ad dollars from the Colorado Senate race by next week. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., is leading Republican Bob Shaffer 54-40 in an Quinnipiac University poll released Oct. 14.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, October 16, 2008 1:10 PM

Wednesday night's final presidential debate featured fighting words from John McCain, though Barack Obama appeared unfazed by his opponent's persistent onslaught. But the Arizona senator did score the line of the evening, when he looked Obama in the eyes and told him: "Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago."

Both camps released ads this morning that either directly or indirectly reference the debate and Bush. The Obama campaign's "90 percent" (subscription) features a clip of McCain's one-liner in the debate, to which an announcer responds: "True, but you did vote with Bush 90 percent of the time."

Obama acknowledged at the Hofstra University forum that McCain has broken with the Bush administration on some policies -- environmentalism and torture, for example -- but insisted that on the one topic that is most important to the American people -- the economy -- McCain represents more of the same; this is the point that the TV spot reiterates. "Tax breaks for big corporations and the wealthy, but almost nothing for the middle class -- same as Bush," an announcer says. The announcer also ties McCain to the Bush administration's Iraq policies, claiming the Arizona senator will continue spending "$10 billion a month in Iraq while our own economy struggles." Finally, the ad uses McCain's own words against him, as it closes with footage of the Republican senator boasting: "I voted with the president over 90 percent of the time -- higher than a lot of my even Republican colleagues."

But in McCain's "Fight" (subscription), the Republican nominee speaks directly to viewers about how he plans to take the economy in a different direction than the Bush administration. "The last eight years haven't worked very well, have they?" McCain begins in the 60-second spot. "Your savings, your job and your financial security are under siege," he continues. "Washington is making it worse -- bankrupting us with their spending."

McCain's next statements imply, however, that by "Washington," he actually means Obama and Joe Biden. "Telling us paying higher taxes is 'patriotic'?" McCain says incredulously, referring to comments Biden made on "Good Morning America" in September.

The GOP nominee also continues to reference Joe Wurzelbacher of Ohio -- more famously known now as "Joe the Plumber" -- who saw the spotlight shined on him quite a bit during the debate. Alluding to Obama's exchange with Wurzelbacher on Sunday in which he explained why he wanted to raise taxes for Americans earning higher incomes, McCain chides Obama for "saying we need to 'spread the wealth around.'"

The rest of the spot turns to a positive note, with McCain underscoring how his recently announced "Pension and Family Security Plan," along with his "Jobs For America" economic plan, will help revive the economy, create more jobs and lessen dependence on foreign oil.

McCain got some help from the independent expenditure arm of the Republican National Committee this morning, as well. The RNC launched a new ad, "Chair" (subscription), which questions whether Obama has the necessary experience to lead the country through a financial "meltdown." "This crisis would be Obama's first crisis in this chair," the announcer says, as the camera pans around the Oval Office.

The subject of "executive experience" was a GOP favorite earlier in the campaign, but had played less of a role in the Republican advertising strategy in recent weeks.

-- Amy Harder contributed reporting to this post.

John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 3:15 PM

In what is becoming a pattern, John McCain has released a TV spot without announcing it to the media. The campaign's latest ad, "Unethical" (subscription), which the Politico's Ben Smith posted about this morning, hasn't officially been released to the press yet. But, according to advertising analyst Evan Tracey, it started running in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday night.

This is quite a change from what the McCain camp has done in the past -- inundate the media with press releases about both TV and online ads, without too much focus on where, if at all, the ads would run. "Unethical" is the second spot in the past week leaked online before the campaign sent out an official release on it. The other was "Hypo" (subscription), which was circulating online for nearly a day before the camp sent anything out about it.

So, what do these two ads have in common? They're both critical of Barack Obama, but then again, so are all of the ads coming from both McCain and the Republican National Committee these days. "Unethical," which is co-sponsored by the RNC, continues to hammer Obama for his Chicago connections, just as the joint spot "Ambition" (subscription) and the RNC's "Chicago Way" (subscription) did last week.

McCain may be trying to reach voters without the press criticizing him for his campaign's negative tone. Maybe he is following the example of the Obama camp, which has never regularly released ads per press releases. In any case, the campaign has clearly revised its ad strategy, with hopes that the tide will turn between now and Nov. 4.

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 1:10 PM

It's not marijuana. It's not cigarettes. It's John McCain. In one of its most specifically targeted efforts yet, MoveOn.org is urging young voters not to give into pressure to vote for the GOP candidate in an anti-drug parody ad, "Talk To Your Parents" (subscription).

The $150,000 ad buy is running on MTV and Comedy Central in university towns throughout North Carolina and Nevada as well as on nationwide cable during the CW series "Gossip Girl." Two actors from the show, Penn Badgley and Blake Lively, appear in the 30-second spot.

The ad plays off several familiar tropes from public service advertising to encourage young voters -- who polling suggests still lean strongly toward Barack Obama -- to talk with their parents and encourage them to support the Democrat. In the ad, Badgley holds up a McCain-Palin baseball cap that says "Drill Baby Drill!" "Mom? Dad? I found this in your room." A slew of young people then rattle off lines found in anti-drug ads. "Are you thinking about voting for John McCain?" one young person says, while another chimes in: "Just because other people your age are doing it, doesn't make it cool."

Peter Koechley, director of MoveOn’s young-voter outreach program, said the actors in "Gossip Girl" "speak extremely well" to the ad's targeted audience. He added that the spot aims to "break through the clutter and be sort of a funny ad, but with a serious message of getting young people to talk with their parents."

The ad is heavy on parody, but it doesn't address any specific issues. In response to that observation, Koechley said that the group doesn't need to win over its target audience to vote for Obama, they need to convince them to encourage their parents and others to do so as well.

"The basic point is that we're 25 days out and we don't need to convince our generation as much," Koechley said. "We're wholeheartedly behind Obama."

John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, October 10, 2008 1:30 PM

Up until Thursday, direct attacks over Barack Obama's connections with one-time domestic terrorist William Ayers have come largely from stump speeches by Sarah Palin and negative ads by outside groups. With Nov. 4 fast approaching, however, Republicans are intensifying their scrutiny of Obama's past.

Three ads released in the last two days, coupled with John McCain's most explicit condemnation yet of Obama's ties with Ayers, illustrate the tone shift. At a town hall meeting in Wisconsin Thursday, the GOP nominee described Ayers as "an old, washed-up terrorist" and said "we need to know the full extent of the relationship because of whether Sen. Obama is telling the truth to the American people or not."

"Ambition" (subscription), a joint spot from McCain and the Republican National Committee, devotes its first 10 seconds to an aggressive examination of the Illinois senator's ties to Ayers, who co-founded the radical organization Weather Underground in the 1960s. "Obama's blind ambition. When convenient, he worked with terrorist Bill Ayers," the announcer seethes. "When discovered, he lied." The last two-thirds of the ad switches focus to the financial crisis, which it blames on "congressional liberals." The announcer concludes with a reference to "bad judgment," aiming to link the two topics of the ad together.

Another solo RNC ad unveiled this morning, "Chicago Way" (subscription), chides Obama more generally over his "training" in Chicago's world of "shady politics" under "teachers" like Tony Rezko, William Daley and, of course, Ayers. After detailing Obama's alleged ties with these men ("Rezko got Obama in on a shady land deal," for instance) an announcer warns voters that "there's more you need to know." This ad echoes much the same message (and names) of McCain's earlier "Chicago Machine," though that ad did not reference Ayers.

The solo RNC spot is running in Indiana and Wisconsin, while the joint ad is supposedly running nationwide.

Along with these TV ads, McCain also released a 90-second Web video Thursday with more on the Ayers connection. As in "Ambition," the announcer here argues that the controversy raises larger questions: "Obama's friendship with terrorist Ayers isn't the issue. The issue is Barack Obama's judgment and candor."

Requests for comment from the McCain camp and the RNC were not returned.

Defense, John McCain, Senate Race, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Thursday, October 9, 2008 3:24 PM

A veterans advocacy group launched a $350,000 television ad buy against John McCain in Virginia on Wednesday, savaging the senator for skipping a GI Bill vote in favor of a campaign fundraiser.

"Vet to vet, Senator McCain, when you put money from your rich friends ahead of vets like me, how is that 'Country First?'" asks Jason Bensley, an Iraq War veteran, in "GI Bill" (subscription).

Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org, explained that the group is running the ad in the Old Dominion because of the large number of veterans in the state and because Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) sponsored the bill. The ad is slated to air for just under two weeks.

In the ad, Bensley notes that McCain himself received a free education from the Naval Academy. The service academies are not affected by the GI Bill. But Soltz said that's the point: The government prioritizes free tuition "just for the elite officers, and that’s not appropriate."

VoteVets.org has targeted McCain for his failure to support the new GI Bill before. Soltz and retired Gen. Wesley Clark wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times in April encouraging McCain to support the bill, and the group ran a TV spot in the D.C. media market on the eve of the vote calling on McCain to support the legislation.

The new ad is part of a larger, $1.3 million campaign VoteVets.org announced Thursday. The group is also spending $200,000 to run a TV spot targeting Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., for voting against a bill that would have provided better body armor for troops.

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, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 6:40 PM

John McCain purchased $1.25 million worth of television advertising in Michigan last week, the same week he withdrew from the state and effectively conceded defeat.

McCain's substantial (and puzzling) ad buys from Sept. 28 to Oct. 4 are the most he has ever spent in seven days in the Wolverine State, according to a report [PDF] released Wednesday by the nonpartisan University of Wisconsin Advertising Project. Of the 15 battleground states where McCain bought ads last week, he spent more money only in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

But McCain more or less conceded Michigan Oct. 2, pulling ads and shipping most staffers to more competitive states. And unlike Barack Obama's recent retreats from North Dakota and Georgia, where the Illinois senator had been hoping for a long-shot pickoff, McCain had identified Michigan as a central front in his battle for 270 electoral votes.

"It's not like they were messing around in Michigan," said Ken Goldstein, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the ad project. "They made a serious effort there, and now they have made a serious effort to pull out."

Continue reading McCain Spent $1.25 Million In Michigan On Eve of Pullout

John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 10:45 AM

The National Journal 2007 Senate vote ratings, released in January, attracted a lot of attention for ranking Barack Obama as the most liberal senator. Now they're front and center once again in John McCain's latest ad, "Folks" (subscription).

The ad wastes no time getting to the point. "Who is Barack Obama?" it begins. "The National Journal says he's the Senate's most liberal. How extreme." It then uses footage from two interviews Obama gave to show how he "defend[s] himself." In one clip, from an interview Obama did in September with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, he says of the McCain campaign's advertising, "They're not telling the truth." In the other clip, from an interview conducted with the Christian Broadcasting Network in August, he says of those who attack his position on abortion, "I hate to say that people are lying, but here's a situation where folks are lying."

"Not presidential," says the ad's announcer. Repeating the clip of Obama saying "folks are lying," the ad tries to portray him as cagey and defensive.

It’s not the first time McCain has leveled the "most liberal" charge at Obama, but it is the first time an ad from the McCain camp has cited National Journal's vote ratings so explicitly as its central argument. In a column published during the Democratic convention, National Journal editor Charles Green explained the reasoning behind the ratings and responded to some of the criticisms that have been leveled against them.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Web Ad

Wednesday, October 8, 2008 10:34 AM

Barack Obama's new 13-minute video on John McCain's role in the "Keating Five" scandal is making waves this week, but it's only the latest salvo in what has been an ongoing ad war in cyberspace between the two candidates.

As Amy Harder discusses in a new NationalJournal.com online exclusive, Web advertising in all its incarnations is opening up a new set of opportunities -- and risks -- for presidential campaigns, and McCain and Obama are taking advantage of the technology in sharply distinctive ways.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 12:25 PM

The bitter back-and-forth between Barack Obama and John McCain continued this morning as each candidate released a TV ad accusing the other of dishonest attacks, setting a contentious tone for tonight's presidential debate in Nashville, Tenn.

Obama's spot, "The Subject" (subscription), echoes an ad (subscription) released yesterday in denouncing McCain's efforts to shift attention from the struggling economy. "He's out of ideas, out of touch and running out of time," the announcer says, portraying McCain as desperate, with the election clock winding down.

The spot goes on to claim that McCain has no solution for getting the country out of its current fiscal downturn, so he is turning to "smears." It also cites comments from an unidentified McCain adviser who told the New York Daily News on Monday: "If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we're going to lose." The ad appeals to voters who are suffering as they "lose their jobs, homes and savings" and insists that "it's time for a president who'll change the economy -- not change the subject."

With similarly harsh language, McCain goes after Obama's image as an above-the-fray politician and seeks to raise questions about what he stands for in "Hypo" (subscription). The spot opens with footage from a local TV news report in Missouri in which the reporter says the Obama campaign asked law enforcement officials to "target" anyone running misleading attack ads against the Democratic candidate. "How hypocritical," an announcer charges, citing reports that characterize several of Obama's ads as "falsehood[s]," and "not true." Obama "promised better," the announcer concludes. "He lied."

The candidates go into tonight's debate at Belmont University in Nashville with Obama holding a lead in national and battleground state polls.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, October 6, 2008 4:20 PM

With under a month to go until Election Day, John McCain and Barack Obama are getting personal. Both campaigns have announced they're launching more aggressive attacks which take aim at each other's character and try to establish guilt by association.

For its part, the Obama camp has launched a TV ad as well as an online messaging effort -- complete with a 13-minute documentary -- highlighting McCain's involvement in the Keating Five savings and loan scandal nearly 20 years ago. Meanwhile, the GOP camp has plans to release several ads that take aim at Obama's judgment and personal associations.

The Illinois senator released his TV spot, "This Year" (subscription) on Saturday that preemptively defends himself from McCain's anticipated attacks by characterizing his opponent as desperate. It is also the first TV from the Obama camp to directly reference McCain's temperament -- citing a USA Today editorial that labels McCain's response to the financial meltdown as "erratic."

"No wonder his campaign’s announced a plan to 'turn the page on the financial crisis,'" the ad's announcer says, referencing Saturday's Washington Post story about the McCain campaign's plan of attack. The spot goes on to accuse McCain distracting voters "with dishonest, dishonorable 'assaults' against" Obama at a time when people are concerned about the country's economic future. "We can’t afford another president who’s this out of touch," he says, as a photo of McCain and President Bush fills the screen.

The McCain camp said it's waiting until after the second presidential debate Tuesday to release the series of new ads that, among other things, brings to the forefront Obama's relationship with Chicago businessman and now convicted felon Tony Rezko. In the meantime, however, Republicans aren't skimping on on harsh accusations.

An ad released this morning, "Dangerous" (subscription), throws the "dishonorable" charge back at Obama for supposedly saying at an August rally that U.S. troops are "just air-raiding villages and killing civilians." But the footage used in "Dangerous" takes Obama's comments out of context; what he said was, "We've got to get the job done there and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there." The Illinois senator has, in fact, called for sending additional troops to Afghanistan

This ad comes on the heels of another, "Promise," released by the McCain camp after the first presidential debate. The spot pits the Democratic ticket against itself, calling Obama out for voting again troop funding and highlighting Joe Biden's criticism of that position.

The Obama camp was quick to respond to the most recent ad via a statement by John B. Natham, a retired four-star admiral: "Despite consistent distortions of his record, thousands of veterans like myself support Senator Obama because he has the judgment, character and integrity to be a great president."

-- Mary Gilbert contributed to this report.

John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, October 3, 2008 3:38 PM

In the aftermath of the vice presidential debate, John McCain released an ad today that follows up on Thursday night's event, even though no footage from it appears in the spot.

"Tax Cutter" (subscription) opens with footage of Barack Obama claiming to be just that at a recent rally in Florida, but the spot contradicts the Illinois senator by saying he voted for higher taxes 94 times. "He's not truthful on taxes," an announcer chides. Headlines describing Democratic spending continue that theme as another announcer says, "At least congressional liberals admit they want to raise your taxes," aiming to further isolate and chastise Obama.

In their only debate, the running mates sparred over which presidential nominee has raised taxes the most. Sarah Palin threw the first punch, contending that Obama raised taxes 94 times. The Alaska governor used the number three times in one sentence: "Barack had 94 opportunities to side on the people's side and reduce taxes, and 94 times he voted to increase taxes or not support a tax reduction -- 94 times."

Joe Biden retorted that "the charge is absolutely not true. Barack Obama did not vote to raise taxes. The vote she's referring to, John McCain voted the exact same way. It was a budget procedural vote. John McCain voted the same way. It did not raise taxes. Number two, using the standard that the governor uses, John McCain voted 477 times to raise taxes."

The McCain camp also released an ad immediately following the first presidential debate; it didn't include any debate footage, either. On the other hand, the Obama camp's two follow-up ads have both included explicit references to the debates. "Can't Explain," also released today, uses the portion of the veep debate where the candidates dispute health care tax credits to slam McCain for his plans to adjust the system.

Immigration, John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, October 2, 2008 3:30 PM

Judging from the McCain campaign's TV advertising, it took them only about 30 minutes to get over the economic crisis their candidate contends should be uniting the country.

At about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the camp released "Week" (subscription), an ad that shows John McCain speaking directly to voters about the importance of unity in solving the financial crisis. Just over half an hour later, however, the camp launched a Spanish-language spot, "Fraudulent" (subscription), attacking Barack Obama and his "allies in Congress" on immigration.

"Democrats blamed Republicans, Republicans blamed Democrats," McCain laments in his positive 30-second spot. "We’re the United States of America. It shouldn’t take a crisis to pull us together." The rest of the ad goes on to tout McCain's ability to revive the economy, making no further reference to Obama or other congressional Democrats.

"Fraudulent" is quite another story, however. That ad makes the claim that "Obama and his allies in Congress killed immigration reform" -- despite the fact that Obama voted in favor of the 2006 comprehensive immigration reform bill. It goes on to quote media criticism of an Obama ad that unfairly linked McCain to Rush Limbaugh. "They've said no to us long enough. This election, let's tell them no," the announcer concludes. This ad, per the press release, will be accompanied by radio ads, all running in the battleground states of Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

McCain himself has spent a lot of time recently emphasizing the importance of bipartisanship while Congress wades through the bailout legislation. But his ads -- no matter what language they're in -- are suggesting otherwise.

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Thursday, October 2, 2008 1:38 PM

As more and more is dug up on Sarah Palin's record in Alaska, more outside groups are taking notice -- and taking to the airwaves. Planned Parenthood is the latest, releasing an ad, "Heartless" (subscription), that shows a rape victim expressing her fears about John McCain and Palin.

The 30-second spot debuts today in the battleground states of Virginia and Wisconsin, as well as in St. Louis, host city of tonight's vice presidential debate. The ad refers to reports that the city of Wasilla, Alaska, billed sexual assault victims for rape kits while Palin was mayor. It pairs that with McCain’s 1994 Senate vote against the Violence Against Women Act, a bill that created federal criminal penalties for domestic violence and penalized jurisdictions that charged sexual abuse survivors for their own rape examinations by depriving them of federal money. On the other side of the race, Barack Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, has been touting his help in passing the bill, what he calls one of his proudest moments in the Senate.

The announcer seethes that Palin and McCain supported "heartless policies." Rape victim Gretchen reacts by saying their records are "something to me that's unthinkable. It scares me to death."

While the McCain camp does not comment on third-party ads, Republican National Committee spokesman Danny Diaz said, “Planned Parenthood’s ad is a vicious smear against Senator McCain and Governor Palin. This ad is patently false and represents the worst kind of politics."

Two reports by PolitiFact, a joint project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, indicate the ad doesn't tell the whole story. One found that although Palin was mayor at the time rape victims were charged, there's no evidence that she explicitly endorsed the practice. As for McCain’s vote against the Violence Against Women Act, PolitiFact says the ad is "cherry-picking" his record. The specific vote the ad cites is one in which the Arizona senator voted against a larger bill that contained the legislation, for reasons unrelated to that specific act. He had, however, voted for it nine months earlier and supported it again in 2000.

John McCain, Television Ad, Web Ad

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 2:46 PM

While John McCain continues to release a TV ad every day, his online ad campaign has intensified within the last couple of days. Three Web videos have already been released this week, all more derisive and mocking than their TV counterparts. The increased focus on production-cheap online ads rather than the more expensive TV spots likely has to do with the campaign's fundraising, which continues to lag behind that of Barack Obama.

The McCain camp released the TV ad "Rein" (subscription) Tuesday, which uses a clip of former President Bill Clinton, in a Sept. 25 interview on ABC's "Good Morning America," casting doubt on the Democrats' efforts to blame the market turmoil on Republicans: "I think the responsibility that the Democrats have may rest more in resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was president to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac." The ad also cites media reports that suggest McCain has been active in trying to solve the financial crisis while Obama has remained "silent."

The campaign's recent online ads are more caustic in their approach. "Strong" uses a comment Obama made -- "We've got the long-term fundamentals that will really make sure this economy grows" -- to suggest that Obama either agrees with McCain's much-talked-about statement that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong" or is being disingenuous in his attacks on McCain. "Either way," an announcer concludes, "Obama's a hypocrite."

Two other Web ads -- "Alaska's Political Circus" and "Better Off" -- focus almost solely on Sarah Palin. "Alaska's Political Circus" airs jaunty music and accuses "Obama partisans" in Alaska of conducting politically charged inquiries into Palin's history. "Better Off," meanwhile, shows Palin denouncing Obama's positions on taxes.

So, where is McCain in all these ads? When his running mate appears to garner the lion's share of the media attention (for better or worse), these spots appear to be aimed at harnessing that attention in a more favorable light to Palin.

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Wednesday, October 1, 2008 1:30 PM

Sometimes, a song says it all. That's how 85,000 nurses aim to send their message that the health problems of 72-year-old John McCain put Sarah Palin just "one heartbeat away" from being president.

A new 30-second spot, released this morning by the National Nurses Organizing Committee and California Nurses Association, opens with a still photo of McCain while a female vocalist sings, "Your heart’s been achin,' can’t go on forever now." The song plays on as the ad lists various controversies surrounding Palin, including the fact that the city of Wasilla billed sexual assault victims for rape kits while she was mayor, that Palin reportedly wanted to ban books from a local library and that she opposed the "Bridge to Nowhere" while keeping the funding for it.

The ad is currently running in a "six-figure buy" in Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri this week; the group says it may extend that run.

The spot's release was timed to coincide with a report released Tuesday by an actuary firm, Bragg Associates, that concluded that McCain would have a 1 in 4 chance of dying from natural causes in his second term as president. Charles Idelson, spokesman for the nurses organizations, said that McCain's health risks paired with his controversial VP pick is a growing concern among doctors across the country. "It’s an issue which has not been widely discussed, but it is on the mind of many voters and we think it does deserve a public airing," Idelson said. Along with the ad, the organizations' members are also urging McCain to release his full and complete medical records.

The McCain camp doesn't comment on third-party ads, but Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, called the ad "offensive and rife with errors and distortions. These sorts of disgusting ads being run by Obama's special interest allies are part of what's wrong with Washington."

The nurses' message echoes a previous TV ad (since pulled from the airwaves) that uses unflattering images of McCain's cancer scars coupled with doctors expressing their concern over his health to push for a more complete review of his medical records. The spot was sponsored by Democracy For America and Brave New PAC.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Radio Ad, Television Ad, Web Ad

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 12:30 PM

Oops. Joe Biden declared recently that the Democratic ticket was against clean coal when Barack Obama's energy plan explicitly shows the Illinois senator's support for it. This gaffe, which Biden made at a campaign rally in Ohio, has prompted three new ads -- two by John McCain attacking his opponent over it and one by Obama aiming to emphasize his commitment to clean coal.

Obama's ad makes no attempt to reconcile Biden's comment with the Illinois senator's position on the issue, but rather seeks to portray Obama as a longtime friend of the coal industry. "Figured" (subscription) features Randy Henry, an Illinois miner, vouching for Obama's support of the industry as a state and U.S. senator. While the candidate may be from Chicago, Henry insists that Obama made a concerted effort to visit coal mines in Southern Illinois and help communities that were struggling as mining jobs disappeared.

Meanwhile, the McCain camp released a radio ad, "Clean Coal" (subscription), Monday in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia that features a clip of Biden's comment, charging that "Obama-Biden and their liberal allies oppose clean coal." The spot argues for the importance of clean coal, specifically to the residents of the aforementioned battleground states, and links the Democratic ticket's alleged opposition to clean coal with other energy issues. "No energy independence for America? It's no surprise," an announcer says. "After all, Obama-Biden and their liberal allies opposed offshore drilling." The script of the ad is virtually the same in each state; only the reference of the state name changes from market to market.

The McCain camp also released a mocking Web ad last week, "The Coal Miner," which juxtaposes footage of Obama speaking in support of clean coal with Biden speaking in opposition to it. The ad concludes with text on screen reading: "Obama + Biden. Ready to pander? Yes. Ready to lead? No."

-- Mary Gilbert contributed reporting to this post.

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Monday, September 29, 2008 5:00 PM

An ad that ran briefly on MSNBC last week highlighting John McCain's cancer scars -- complete with unflattering images of the GOP nominee's bandaged face after his melanoma surgery eight years ago -- was pulled from the air after Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly lambasted the spot, calling it "the most vicious political ad of the campaign."

"McCain's Medical Records" (subscription), released by left-leaning groups Democracy For America and Brave New PAC, began airing on MSNBC Thursday. It pairs two doctors' grim diagnoses of melanoma patients with close-up images of McCain's cancer scars and urges McCain to release his medical records in a more thorough fashion than he did in the spring.

NBC spokeswoman Allison Gollust told the Associated Press that "the ad had not been thoroughly vetted prior to air, and has since been removed from our commercial rotation."

"I have no idea what that means," said Democracy for America communications director Daniel Medress. "Both of the gentlemen in the ads are doctors. John McCain is 72 years old. He's had cancer four times. What wasn't vetted?"

CNN also refused to air the ad, without citing a specific reason, Medress said.

Continue reading McCain Medical Records Ad Pulled From The Airwaves

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, September 29, 2008 1:00 PM

Within 24 hours of the first presidential debate, both candidates were out with ads attacking the other on the topic they consider themselves more qualified in -- Barack Obama on the economy and John McCain on foreign policy.

The Obama campaign on Saturday morning released "Zero" (subscription), a spot that calls out McCain for not referencing the middle class a single time in the 90-minute forum. "McCain doesn’t get it. Barack Obama does," the announcer proclaims before the ad cuts to footage from the debate. "The fundamentals of the economy have to be measured by whether or not the middle class is getting a fair shake," Obama insists in one clip, while in another he ties McCain's tax plan to the economic policies of the current administration.

McCain was quick out of the gate with an ad of his own. "Promise" (subscription), released Saturday, pits the Democratic ticket against itself, contrasting Obama's vote against a bill to fund troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with statements Joe Biden made during the primary campaign criticizing that position.

Continue reading Ads Pick Up Where Debate Left Off

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Thursday, September 25, 2008 2:45 PM

John McCain sure has a lot of friends MoveOn.org doesn't approve of. After releasing the first ad of its $7 million fall campaign last week calling the GOP nominee out for his "friends" in the oil industry, the group unveiled another one today that links more of McCain's "friends," including President Bush, to the financial crisis.

Like MoveOn's previous ad, "My Friends' Mess" (subscription) capitalizes on the McCain phrase "my friends," which he often says to emphasize a point. "We all know the economy is in crisis. But who's responsible?" the announcer asks. According to MoveOn, the blame lies with former Texas Sen. and McCain economic adviser Phil Gramm, as well as McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. The spot claims that their work legislating or lobbying for banking deregulation has contributed to the current market "mess."

The latter half of the 60-second ad takes on an increasingly caustic tone, rejecting the bailout plan Bush and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson Jr. have proposed, calling it "the biggest blank check in history." "Main Street giving Wall Street $700 billion -- and getting nothing in return? It's outrageous," the announcer jeers. "Americans shouldn't have to foot the bill for mistakes that John McCain and his friends made."

MoveOn communications director Ilyse Hogue said the group aims to cast doubt on McCain's trustworthiness. "It's very important that Americans really understand that McCain's judgment includes the people he chooses to surround himself with in his campaign," Hogue said. "These are the people who got us into the mess."

Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant criticized MoveOn for releasing the negative ad just as Congress is working on the bailout plan and McCain himself has suspended his campaign. "Barack Obama's liberal allies are launching a partisan attack at the precise moment we should be putting politics aside and working to solve the problem," Conant said in an e-mail. "These sorts of false attacks by special interest groups are part of what's wrong with Washington."

John McCain

Thursday, September 25, 2008 10:00 AM

After releasing an ad -- or two or three -- per day, John McCain's camp announced Wednesday that, as part of suspending its presidential campaign in light of the financial crisis, it's also holding off on running or releasing any advertisements.

"In addition to suspending his campaign to return to Washington to work for a bipartisan solution to this problem, this campaign is suspending its advertising and fundraising," spokesman Brian Rogers said in a statement Wednesday evening. The duration of the delay was not specified.

This suspension leaves the GOP nominee's ad strategy -- outlined by McCain advertising guru Fred Davis at the GOP convention -- in limbo. Will the ads originally slated to run in the coming days be postponed? Will they run at all? Will this mean an influx of ads once an agreement is settled on the bailout?

Another question is how the suspension will influence McCain's outreach to voters compared to Barack Obama. The Democratic nominee has increased his ad spending by 50 percent and ramped up efforts in battleground states, while McCain has remained steady in both spending and market buys. Voters could see the suspension as commendable -- that McCain cares more about the financial well-being of Americans than the election. But it remains to be seen whether his absence from TV screens across the country will simply keep him "out of sight, out of mind" among voters more than anything else.

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 3:35 PM

John McCain has had cancer four times and would be the oldest president ever elected, yet, according to two left-leaning groups, the 72-year-old GOP nominee hasn't been open enough with the public about his medical records.

In a new ad (subscription) scheduled to begin running nationwide Thursday, Democracy for America and Brave New PAC pairs doctors' grim diagnosis of melanoma patients with unflattering images of McCain's cancer scars. "The relevance of knowing the details of his course with melanoma are very important," says Dr. Michael Frakin, a palliative care specialist from Eureka, Calif., in the ad. "Another bout of cancer for John McCain while he is president of the United States would profoundly impact his capacity to lead." Another doctor outlines the severity of melanoma. "Melanoma is the deadliest of skin cancers and the chances of survival, if you have melanoma spread through your body, are very, very slim," warns Dr. Noah Craft, a melanoma specialist from Los Angeles. The ad concludes with text on screen asking "Why won't John McCain release his Medical Records?"

Continue reading Doctors Demand Release Of McCain Medical Records

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5:31 PM

Barack Obama is taking advantage of Newsweek's recent report that John McCain and his wife, Cindy, own 13 cars, some of which are not American-made.

The Illinois senator launched a new TV ad (subscription) in Michigan this afternoon referencing the McCains' foreign-made cars to suggest that the Arizona senator does not support the American auto industry -- an issue that could resonate in this battleground state, where the RealClearPolitics poll average shows Obama ahead by just 5 points.

The ad opens with footage of an interview in which McCain vows: "I've bought American literally all my life." "Oh, really?" an announcer jeers. In addition to owning a foreign-made Lexus, a Volkswagen and a Honda Sedan, the ad claims that McCain opposed giving federal loans to the auto industry. Text onscreen charges that the Arizona senator is "Not Talking Straight To Michigan," and the announcer urges voters: "Don't believe John McCain when he says he'll help Michigan."

To be fair, the Newsweek report states that McCain's name actually appears on only one of the 13 car titles -- that of a 2004 Cadillac -- while the rest are registered to his wife's name or her business. The Obamas, meanwhile, share a 2008 Ford Escape hybrid.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 12:00 PM

Another day, another pair of dueling "ads" from Barack Obama and John McCain. While McCain attempted to change the subject Monday, releasing a spot about Obama's origins in the shady world of Chicago politics, both candidates once again focused their attacks on economic issues today.

Obama's "Bermuda" (subscription), reportedly running on national cable, suggests that, during a 2007 visit to this island getaway, McCain was up to more than sunbathing and snorkeling. McCain "pledged to protect tax breaks for American corporations that hide their profits offshore," an announcer alleges. What's more, he continues, McCain later received $50,000 from "grateful insurance company executives and their lobbyists who benefit from the tax scheme."

McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds was quick to retort. "Barack Obama's ad cleverly ignores two key facts: His own campaign headquarters is provided by a company based in Bermuda and is guilty of the very same off-shore benefits he's attacking," he said in a statement. "Obama has a stronger record of hypocrisy than he does making change in Washington."

Meanwhile, in McCain's "Mum" (subscription), also released this morning, the GOP nominee claims that Obama and his "liberal allies" are "mum on the market crisis." The ad cites a Washington Times article from Friday reporting that Obama opted not to give details of his recovery plan and a Bloomberg story from last week quoting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., as saying that no one, including Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Congress, "knows what to do."

The ad employs one of the staple messages put forth by the McCain campaign -- that Obama doesn't have the experience needed to lead in a crisis, while McCain and his "congressional allies" do. The announcer also emphasizes McCain's reputation as a reformer, contending that he will impose "tough rules on Wall Street."

It's worth noting that, since Reid's comment on Sept. 17, there has been a whole host of developments on Wall Street and Capitol Hill. The $700 billion bailout plan proposed by Paulson, for instance, wasn't introduced until the weekend.

-- Amy Harder contributed reporting to this post.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, September 22, 2008 3:48 PM

John McCain is striking Barack Obama on his home turf in Chicago, the latest attack on a candidate's associates in the presidential race.

In "Chicago Machine" (subscription), released this morning, the McCain camp links Obama to a handful of prominent -- and controversial -- Illinois political figures. It begins with Obama's own words: "In terms of my toughness -- look, first of all, I come from Chicago." An announcer then says Obama was "born of the corrupt Chicago political machine." The ad goes on to tie four figures to Obama: William Daley, former commerce secretary and now a lobbyist; convicted felon Tony Rezko; Illinois Senate President Emil Jones (Obama's "political godfather," the ad claims); and Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Citing various reports calling their ethics into question, the ad concludes, "With friends like that, Obama is not ready to lead."

The Obama camp quickly responded by pointing out reports published today that question McCain campaign manager Rick Davis' ties to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "It's no coincidence that on the very day newspapers reported that John McCain's campaign manager was paid $2 million to lobby against tighter regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the McCain campaign would launch this false, gratuitous attack," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.

In a morning conference call with reporters, however, Davis adamantly denied any questionable lobbying activities on behalf of the lenders. He said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were just two of the nearly 20 organizations that contributed to the advocacy group of which he was president. He added that it's been three years since he's had any contact with anyone with the group.

The tactic is nothing new for either candidate in this race. Obama has gone directly or indirectly after conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh and various McCain surrogates including former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm; McCain has done the same with Obama's ties to former Fannie Mae chiefs Jim Johnson and Franklin Raines.

Steve Schmidt, a McCain-Palin senior adviser, said the media has shown the Obama camp preferential treatment. "You may not read this on the front page of the New York Times, but the Obama campaign is surrounded by people who have worked in the lobbyist industry," Schmidt said in Monday's conference call. He cited Hunter Biden, the son of Obama running mate Joe Biden, for lobbying work on behalf of the "credit card and banking interests." A spokesman for Biden has already refuted that claim. Schmidt also took aim at Obama's chief adviser, David Axelrod, and his possible lobbyist background.

"Chicago Machine" will air nationwide and focus on the handful of states that are emerging as battlegrounds, Davis said in the conference. Responding to a question of whether this will "actually air," considering all the talk surrounding "phantom ads" -- ads that are officially released but don't see any substantial air time -- Davis responded, "this is a real buy," implying a difference with some other ads from the camp.

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."

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, September 19, 2008 2:30 PM

In a week when kitchen table issues have returned to the forefront of the presidential campaign, Barack Obama and John McCain are each battling to prove that they would be the right man to lead the country in a time of economic uncertainty. On the airwaves, that has translated into a series of shots at one another's economic plans. Thursday afternoon and Friday morning saw a shift in messages, as both candidates went after the other's economic advisers.

Obama's "Who Advises" (subscription) targets McCain's connections with former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm. Meanwhile, two spots out by McCain aim to cast doubt on his opponent's economic judgment by linking him to former Fannie Mae chiefs Jim Johnson (subscription) and Franklin Raines (subscription).

This campaign season seems to have shed an unusual spotlight on campaign surrogates, from Samantha Powers' "monster" flap to Geraldine Ferraro's implication that Obama was winning the Democratic primaries because he is black.

But do voters really care about these peripheral figures? According to McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, they do. Speaking with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Wednesday, Palin said that, in determining their vote, Americans are "looking at voting records, and they're looking at allegiances."

Continue reading Economic Surrogate Smackdown

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, September 18, 2008 6:34 PM

Another day closer to Nov. 4 means another ad -- or two or three -- released on behalf of John McCain and Barack Obama. But whether those ads actually make it on the air as legitimate commercials rather than part of a newscast is a different story. Evan Tracey, head of TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group, a firm that tracks political advertising, spoke with NationalJournal.com about these so-called "phantom" ads. Edited excerpts follow.

Q: Can you briefly describe the ad strategies that have developed with both presidential campaigns?

Tracey: It's a unique dynamic to this presidential race. With the 24/7 content needs of the 24/7 media, between the blogs and cable news, the campaigns have done a very good job of exploiting this in the sense that they can release what are supposed to be TV commercials that are really sort of video press releases that they can then feed into this beast that’s the 24/7 media. They become amplified by the press so they don't interfere with the campaign's real message strategy.... The ad gets shown for free, and you have partisan commentary on either side of the ads in the form of talking heads, pundits and, in some cases, journalists....
The candidates obviously aren't going to be in debates every day. This is the way they can have their debates. It's the political equivalent of dueling banjos.

Q: Did this sort of ad tactic happen in the 2004 presidential election?

Tracey: There were certainly examples of this in 2004, but not to the extent we have now. What the campaigns have gotten very savvy about is the whole timing aspect of this. If you’ve noticed, most of the new "ads" are produced and released in the mid-afternoons of a particular day. We all know what’s happening in the mid-afternoons -- the cable news shows are planning what they’re going to talk about that evening. In essence, [the cable news channels say], "OK, great, we can show these new ads, that kills five minutes, check that off the list." And that carries over into the morning news shows. In some respects, it's written about and blogged about.... This is a way for campaigns to look like they're on top of the issues of the day.

Q: Can you apply this ad tactic specifically to the campaigns of McCain and Obama?

Tracey: If you look at the ads that they're actually placing, both the Obama and McCain campaigns are running thousands of commercials a day, and usually 95 percent of those rotations are two spots. When they're releasing new spots every day, what they're not doing is taking down the spots that they know are working with voters.
It's really a two-tiered election. In this top tier that these video press releases, phantom ads, are basically going into is this cable-news-watching, opinion-leader-journalist-type audience that's churning and amplifying [the ads]. What's most interesting is a lot of the ads themselves are fairly hard-hitting or have very sharp elbows. Those were the kinds of messages that used to be buried in direct mail; maybe niche-radio-type spots. They weren't made into TV ads....
What they're running, putting a lot of money behind in their rotations, are not necessarily those of hard-hitting ads.

Continue reading Q&A: Campaigns Capitalize on 24/7 News Cycle With 'Phony' Ads

Economy, John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, September 18, 2008 5:13 PM

John McCain may pride himself on bucking his party in the Senate, but when it comes to funding his campaign ads, he certainly doesn't shy away from the GOP.

A report [PDF] released Wednesday by the Wisconsin Advertising Project, an effort by the University of Wisconsin to track political ad spending, showed a huge disparity in the funding relationships between each candidate and his respective party committee. More than half of McCain's ads -- 57 percent -- were co-sponsored by the Republican National Committee. In comparison, a mere 3 percent of Barack Obama's were paid for by the Democratic National Committee.

One possibility for this disparity is that Obama opted out of public funding for the election, while McCain didn't and is thus constrained by the $84 million amount allocated for him. With Obama tallying a record $66 million month of fundraising in August, he's clearly in no rush to tap the resources of the DNC, which is cash-poor compared to the RNC.

Reiterating the report's findings are three ads the McCain campaign launched today. While officially released as "McCain-Palin" ads, the spots are actually co-sponsored by the RNC, evidenced only in the ads' credits. In the hardest-hitting of the three, "Dome" (subscription), an announcer says that Obama and congressional Democrats favor "massive government" that would wreak financial havoc on Americans.

The camp followed up that nationwide buy with a pair of targeted ads in the battleground states of Michigan (subscription) and Ohio (subscription), each telling voters there that a McCain administration will work hard to restore their economies and create more jobs.

Barack Obama, Economy, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, September 17, 2008 3:20 PM

Amid financial turmoil on Wall Street, Barack Obama released a rare two-minute spot today that delves into his proposals for reviving the economy, and John McCain released two 30-second ads Tuesday afternoon and this morning that focus on the GOP nominee's plans to reform Wall Street. Both candidates speak directly to viewers in these ads to reassure them that Wall Street and Washington -- not voters -- are to blame for the ailing economy.

"Wall Street's been rocked as banks closed and markets tumbled," Obama says in "Plan For Change" (subscription). "Six hundred thousand Americans have lost their jobs since January. Paychecks are flat and home values are falling. It's hard to pay for gas and groceries." The Illinois senator goes on to outline his plans to revive the economy, touching on everything from investing in renewable energy to ending the Iraq war. The ad doesn't mention McCain, but Obama does denounce the "petty attacks and distractions" that have "consumed" the election thus far.

In the more hard-hitting of McCain's two ads, "Foundation" (subscription), the Arizona senator speaks directly to "American workers," calling them "the best in the world." In a stark contrast to Obama's ad, McCain explicitly calls out his opponent, saying Obama's "only solutions" to the economic crisis "are talk and taxes." The GOP nominee goes on to assert that he'll "reform Wall Street and fix Washington," and concludes by implicitly referencing his military record: "I've taken on tougher guys than this before."

"Foundation," released early this morning, comes fresh on the heels of "Enough Is Enough" (subscription), which was unveiled Tuesday afternoon. This spot reiterates much the same message as another ad, "Crisis," that the campaign released Monday in direct response to the collapse of the financial firm Lehman Brothers. "I'll meet this financial crisis head on," McCain says in "Enough Is Enough." "Reform Wall Street. New rules for fairness and honesty. I won't tolerate a system that puts you and your family at risk."

McCain's trio of ads -- all explicitly underscoring the severity of the financial crisis -- illustrate the nominee's "turnabout" since initially reacting to the crisis on Monday by repeating his earlier claim that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong."

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:02 PM

According to a new attack ad out today from MoveOn.org, the John McCain campaign has several advisers with "friends" in the wrong places: oil companies.

The first ad (subscription) of the progressive group's $7 million fall campaign highlights the staple McCain phrase "my friends," which he often says to emphasize a point. MoveOn takes that phrase to mean "the 177 lobbyists who have ties to his campaign." An announcer says, "McCain got $2 million from energy companies. And he didn't support the measures we need to get cleaner, cheaper fuel." The highlighted lobbyists fill various roles in McCain's camp, including Charlie Black as his senior adviser and Randy Scheunemann as his foreign policy adviser.

This spot reiterates a message Barack Obama's camp stressed in an ad released last week. "It's Over" (subscription) questions assertions McCain has made about not catering to special interests and shows members of his team who do lobbying work (a point to which the Washington Post's Fact Checker blog took exception today)

CORRECTION: The original headline of this post misattributed the criticism.

Barack Obama, Economy, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, September 16, 2008 12:15 PM

With Wall Street still reeling from news of Lehman Brothers' failure and Merrill Lynch's sale to Bank of America, Barack Obama is seizing on comments made that same morning by rival John McCain. The only sound in "Fundamentals" (subscription) is ominous music and a familiar line that McCain delivered again Monday in Florida: "Our economy, I think, still -- the fundamentals of our economy are strong."

The 30-second spot -- running in "key states," per the campaign -- flashes various messages underscoring the severity of the financial crisis: "Lehman Brothers collapses," "markets in turmoil," "job losses at 605,000 for the year" and "foreclosures at 9,800 a day." It goes on to air footage of McCain at the Florida rally and asks on screen: "How can John McCain fix our economy if he doesn't understand it's broken?" The ad concludes with the Democrats' signature attack strategy: showing a photo of McCain with the unpopular President Bush.

Continue reading Obama Hammers McCain On Strength Of Fundamentals

Economy, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, September 15, 2008 5:16 PM

Coinciding with Monday's early-morning announcement that investment firm Lehman Brothers would file for bankruptcy, the McCain camp released its latest ad, "Crisis" (subscription), which contends only "proven reformers John McCain and Sarah Palin can fix" the economy.

The ad makes an explicit reference to the firm about halfway through when an image of the Lehman Brothers headquarters pops up on the screen. An announcer asserts that a McCain-Palin administration would impose "tougher rules on Wall Street to protect your life savings. No special-interest giveaways." The 30-second spot also touches on two mainstay economic topics: creating jobs (by lowering taxes) and lowering gasoline prices (through offshore drilling).

So what's missing from this ad? That would be an attack on McCain's Democratic rival, Barack Obama. In what has become an increasingly bitter battle between the two sides, this ad shows the GOP camp staying on the positive. Nonetheless, when the announcer stresses that "only proven reformers" McCain and Palin can fix the economy, the ad implies that Obama and running mate Joe Biden don't have what it takes.

John McCain, Radio Ad, Television Ad

Friday, September 12, 2008 5:20 PM

Between solo and joint ads released today by John McCain and the Republican National Committee, the GOP is covering a lot of ground. Indeed, they had to make up for an ad-free day Thursday, in honor of 9/11 -- though some are questioning whether the McCain camp violated the truce the candidates agreed upon.

An ad the McCain camp released this morning calls out Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., for being "disrespectful" (subscription) to McCain's VP pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. An announcer asserts that Obama and Biden "lashed out at Sarah Palin" and "dismissed her as 'good-looking.''' FactCheck.org contends, however, that the ad takes the quotes out of context and distorts them.

Also out today is a joint ad from McCain and the RNC, a Spanish-language TV spot running in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. "Which Side Are They On?" (subscription) suggest that Obama and his "congressional allies" -- including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., whose images pop up on the screen, sandwiching Obama -- are guilty of pushing "poison pill" legislation that "made immigration reform fail."

Both McCain and the RNC released radio ads today as well. In "Change Or More Of The Same?" (subscription), the RNC claims that Obama has requested a "billion dollars in earmarks" and that Biden has been requesting them "for decades." An announcer also praises McCain for never requesting an earmark and Palin for vetoing wasteful spending and cutting earmark requests "by hundreds of millions of dollars."

McCain's radio ad, "Stem Cell" (subscription), promises that McCain and his own team of "congressional allies" will invest "millions" in stem-cell research, to find cures and relief for conditions such as cancer, heart disease, spinal cord damage and strokes.

John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Friday, September 12, 2008 4:11 PM

On the heels of John McCain's nomination speech at the Republican National Convention -- where he praised his country and cited his prisoner-of-war and military experience as key elements of his biography as a candidate -- came a hard-hitting ad featuring a fellow POW aiming to put all that into doubt.

Brave New PAC, a left-leaning advocacy group, and Democracy for America, which describes itself as the "nation's largest progressive political action community," are partnering to launch a 30-second spot that will run nationwide on CNN, MSNBC and ESPN beginning Sunday. The ad features POW Phillip Butler voicing his concerns about whether McCain's imprisonment necessarily qualifies him to be president. Butler went to the Naval Academy with McCain and was imprisoned with him in Vietnam. "Hell, I’m 70 years old and I’ve lived through being a prisoner of war, I’m going to tell it like it is," Butler says in the ad. "I think I can say with authority that the prisoner of war experience is not a good prerequisite for a president of the United States."

Continue reading Fellow POW Casts Doubt On McCain

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Friday, September 12, 2008 11:00 AM

Planned Parenthood unveiled an ad today in response to John McCain's "Education," released Tuesday, which claims that Barack Obama supports "comprehensive sex education" for kindergartners.

"Sexual Abuse" (subscription) is running in the same markets -- Pittsburgh and Denver -- where "Education" is reportedly running. The 30-second spot argues that McCain is "twisting the facts and attacking Senator Obama" for supporting a bill that both Planned Parenthood and the Obama campaign say is aimed at curbing sexual abuse. "Doesn't McCain want our children to protect themselves from sex offenders?" the announcer asks. The spot also cites a Washington Post article from Thursday that disputed many of the claims made in "Education."

Planned Parenthood spokesman Tait Sye said the organization hopes to both "set the record straight" on McCain's "misleading" ad and tell voters that "McCain will say anything to get elected." The group sent a letter to McCain's camp Thursday asking him to pull the ad because of factual errors. Receiving no response, the group ran its own ad, Sye said.

When asked about how the dynamics of the election have changed since the entry of Sarah Palin, Sye brushed off her influence. "The vast majority of Americans don't share her positions," including her staunch opposition to abortion even in cases of rape and incest, Sye said. Despite polls showing key voter blocs, especially white women, trending toward the GOP after the conventions, he said that Americans simply need to become more informed about Palin. The "McCain-Palin ticket is out of touch with issues that are important to women," he said.

This is the group's second ad of the presidential campaign. Its previous spot was also in direct response to the McCain campaign: "Out Of Touch," released in mid-July, rebuked McCain for awkwardly answering a reporter's question on insurance companies covering Viagra but not birth control.

John McCain, Web Ad

Thursday, September 11, 2008 12:13 PM

A McCain campaign Web video accusing Barack Obama of sexist "smears" against Sarah Palin has been pulled from YouTube at the request of CBS, but not before racking up countless views online and on cable news throughout Wednesday. CBS asked that the ad be removed because it included footage from an online commentary by Katie Couric about sexism in the presidential race. In the McCain video, she appears to be accusing Obama of sexism; in fact, she was talking about coverage of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s candidacy in June.

A spokesman for YouTube was unable to say exactly how many times the video had been watched online because the company does not keep track of statistics for videos that have been pulled from their site.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 3:30 PM

Between the political bickering over pigs and lipstick, John McCain's campaign released another ad today, "Fact Check" (subscription), which accuses Barack Obama of attempting to smear Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The ad draws upon a Wall Street Journal op-ed that says the Obama campaign has "airdropped a mini-army of 30 lawyers, investigators and opposition researchers into" Alaska to "dig into her record and background." The female announcer goes on to charge that "as Obama drops in the polls, he'll try to destroy her."

So, who's the newest cosmetic and/or animal to join the presidential election? Wolves. In a throwback to a George W. Bush ad from 2004, a full five seconds of the 30-second spot is devoted solely to footage of wolves -- representing Obama's "mini-army" -- roaming a forest, in, presumably, Alaska's wilderness.

John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 12:30 PM

Responding to a Barack Obama TV ad (subscription), John McCain's campaign took to the airwaves Tuesday evening to push back on the issue of education and turn the tables on the Illinois senator. Their response ad, however, has drawn an impassioned rebuke from Obama.

"Education" (subscription) does little to respond to the Obama campaign's claims about McCain's record on the subject, but rather takes a dig at the Illinois senator by citing an article in Education Week that says Obama "hasn't made a significant mark on education." The spot then goes further, suggesting that "Obama's one accomplishment" on education legislation was to pass a bill in Illinois that approved teaching ''comprehensive sex education ... to kindergartners." "Learning about sex before learning to read?" an announcer wonders, concluding that Obama is "wrong on education. Wrong for your family."

The ad prompted one of the most pointed rebuttals yet from the Obama camp. Spokesman Bill Burton called it "shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls." He added: "Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn't define what honor was. Now we know why."

Another spat broke out between the rival camps yesterday over a particular women's cosmetic product. On the trail in Virginia, Obama was mocking the notion that McCain and vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin represent change agents, when he told a crowd: "You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig." The phrase -- an idiom which McCain himself has used in reference to Hillary Rodham Clinton's health care plan -- is a relatively common analogy, but it evoked a line that Palin used while accepting her party's nomination in Minnesota, when she told the audience that the only "difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull" is "lipstick."

The McCain campaign pounced on Obama's comments, releasing a Web ad this morning. The spot shows a clip of CBS anchor Katie Couric lamenting "the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life" and accuses Obama of using a sexist smear against Palin.

In remarks this morning, Obama dismissed the controversy as an example of "phony outrage and Swift boat politics." Yesterday, Obama adviser Anita Dunn called ad a "pathetic attempt to play the gender card" and charged: "This phony lecture on gender sensitivity is the height of cynicism and lays bare the increasingly dishonorable campaign John McCain has chosen to run."

John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, September 8, 2008 11:15 AM

Fresh off the Republican convention last week and a post-convention bounce in the polls -- either breaking even or pulling ahead of Democratic rival Barack Obama -- John McCain's camp released an ad this morning touting the reform credentials of both McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

"Original Mavericks" (subscription) highlights media reports that praise McCain and Palin for going against their party. "He fights pork barrel spending," an announcer says, with a 2007 San Jose Mercury-News headline, "McCain Faults Bush For Pork Barrel Spending," rolling across the screen. "She stopped the Bridge to Nowhere," the announcer continues, accompanied by a 2007 Anchorage Daily News headline -- "Palin Flies High As Reformer."

While McCain's campaign has sought to paint the GOP nominee as a "maverick" for quite some time now, this ad extends that label to the relatively obscure Palin. Since the Republican's VP announcement Aug. 29, the relationship between the media and Palin has been rocky, and voters still seem relatively uninformed about her. This ad, then, also doubles as a biographical spot of Palin, echoing the same message as last week's "Alaska Maverick" -- although that ad made some jabs at Obama for his "empty," "liberal" record in Congress, while the newer one remains positive.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Radio Ad, Television Ad

Thursday, September 4, 2008 2:27 AM

Both presidential nominees released ads Wednesday drawing attention to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, albeit in different ways. John McCain gives props to his running mate in "Alaska Maverick." And a new radio ad from Barack Obama chastises McCain for opposing abortion rights, a topic that has taken on new currency lately -- first when McCain alarmed his base with a remark that he wouldn't rule out an abortion rights supporter as his running mate, and now with McCain’s addition of Palin, a staunch abortion opponent.

McCain's spot heralds Palin's reformer reputation by highlighting media reports from the Wall Street Journal (which dubbed the duo "A Reform Ticket") and her home state's Anchorage Daily News (calling Palin the "Joan of Arc of Alaska politics"), among others. The ad contrasts that with coverage of Obama that suggests he'll always vote along party lines. From the January National Journal survey that ranked him the most liberal senator to a series of Senate votes benefiting Big Oil, the McCain camp reiterates that his change reputation is nothing but "empty words." It’s worth noting, however, that all the headlines applauding Palin are dated after the Aug. 29 VP announcement, suggesting that before she was thrust into the national spotlight, the national media didn’t see compelling reason to highlight her or her "reformer" reputation.

Obama's radio ad features a Planned Parenthood nurse urging women not to vote for McCain because he supports overturning Roe v. Wade. "John McCain's out of touch with women today. McCain wants to take away our right to choose," the nurse says. "That's what women need to understand. That's how high the stakes are." The spot replays a clip of McCain confirming that he supports a constitutional amendment banning all abortions.

The Obama camp said the ad was released before McCain announced his pick. Nonetheless, with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s supporters potentially in play and with Palin receiving attention as the first woman on a presidential ticket since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, abortion is making a comeback as a hot-button political topic.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, September 2, 2008 9:00 PM

It didn't take the presidential campaigns long to put the bipartisan unity engendered by Hurricane Gustav behind them.

The Republicans today are aiming to resume their regular convention schedule, albeit in a shifted format. That means fair game and open season: Last week, John McCain aired a fresh ad every day of the Democrats’ convention, and on Saturday, Barack Obama returned fire with three new ones.

"Expensive Plans," an ad released jointly by McCain's camp and the Republican National Committee, opens with the staple celebrity reference and links Obama to "out-of-touch congressional leaders" who have "expensive plans." Images of big-name Senate Democrats like Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nev., Charles Schumer, N.Y., and Christopher Dodd, Conn., flash across the screen. "Billions in new government spending. Years of deficits. No balanced budgets. And painful tax increases on working American families," the announcer says. "They’re ready to tax, ready to spend, but not ready to lead."

Continue reading Camps Get Back To Business With Dueling Ads

Barack Obama, John McCain

Sunday, August 31, 2008 11:08 PM

As the Republicans gear up for their national convention, slated to start Monday in an abbreviated format, Hurricane Gustav has compelled both parties to drop partisan walls for the time being and focus on the well-being of the Gulf Coast states.

Will the storm also prompt the campaigns to suspend or modify their ad attack strategy? John McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, addressed the issue in a press conference Sunday. "Right now, we had some ads that were being purchased as a course of normal activities during this week," Davis said. "And we're evaluating whether or not we have those go up or whether we can even get them down. So, we are looking at that as a campaign."

A spokesman for Barack Obama said the Democrat's campaign is monitoring the situation but has not changed its ad strategy yet.

If the hurricane does trigger a cease-fire between the campaigns, it will certainly be a change of pace after both released a flurry of ads within the last week. The McCain camp released an ad every day of the Democrats' convention in Denver, hitting Obama on everything from national security to harsh criticism from Hillary Rodham Clinton. The Obama campaign didn't waste any time leading up to the Republicans' events in the Twin Cities, releasing three spots on Saturday, including a hard-hitting one responding to McCain's newly picked running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Sunday, August 31, 2008 12:06 AM

To the Obama campaign, John McCain has had a running mate beside him long before Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- President Bush.

In a new ad released today -- pre-emptively stealing some thunder from the Republicans' convention in the Twin Cities this week -- Barack Obama charges that there will be "no change" with McCain as president, regardless of Palin's addition to his ticket.

"Well, he's made his choice. But for the rest of us, there's still no change," an announcer says over footage of Palin and McCain together. The spot goes on to criticize McCain on the economy, Iraq, and, of course, Bush: McCain "votes with George Bush 90 percent of the time," the announcer laments. The ad concludes by saying, "While this may be his running mate [showing Palin on the screen], America knows this [switching to Bush] is John McCain's agenda. And we can't afford four more years of the same."

There has been some controversy over how the Obama campaign has reacted to McCain's veep choice. While Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., cordially welcomed Palin into the race, campaign spokesman Bill Burton had harsher words about her, which Obama has since distanced himself from. This spot, however, was carefully crafted not to mention Palin by name or criticize her. The focus, and the Democrats' attack strategy as a whole, remains on McCain and an unpopular Republican Party. It also subtly gnaws at one of the reasons many believe McCain picked Palin: her reputation as a reformer, not a Washington insider. Asserting that she won't make a difference as his running mate implies that she doesn't have what it takes -- be it experience or an "outsider" mindset -- to be vice president.

While this spot has triggered the most talk, Obama's campaign released two other ads Saturday in local buys addressing specific issues.

In an ad running in Detroit, an announcer says that while McCain has turned his back on the ailing auto industry, Obama supports measures that helps "revitalize" the city and its auto workers.

Biden takes center stage in another ad running in Northeast Pennsylvania. "Scranton" recounts what Biden has learned about working hard while growing up there and draws parallels between his childhood and Obama's. "Barack Obama learned the same lessons while being raised by a single mom and his grandparents -- responsibility, determination, respect, to stand up for the dignity of all our families," Biden proclaims. "So it's good to be coming home -- and bringing home a friend."

John McCain

Thursday, August 28, 2008 10:08 PM

The South Carolina Republican Party wants viewers in the Twin Cities to know that Barack Obama failed to mention one "home" of John McCain's in his attacks on the Arizona senator and his multiple houses.

"Home" highlights McCain's captivity in a Vietnamese prison camp. "During a combat mission over Vietnam, John McCain was shot down and severely injured. John McCain's new home for the next five and half years will be an enemy prison cell," an announcer says.

The South Carolina GOP, which will run the ad through the Republican convention next week, is aiming to take some thunder away from the expected Democratic attacks. The spot shows black-and-white photos of the "Hanoi Hilton" POW camp -- prison bars, empty rooms and other desolate images -- when an announcer says: "This is where John McCain was starved, beaten, tortured and maimed for life. So the next time Barack Obama talks about one of John McCain's homes, remember this one."

The ad echoes McCain's response to Obama's attack on his housing flub, which was to cite his time as a POW. Appearing on "The Tonight Show" on Monday, McCain told Jay Leno, "I spent five and a half years in a prison cell, without -- I didn’t have a house, I didn’t have a kitchen table, I didn’t have a table, I didn’t have a chair." Still, some critics raise the issue that the Republican’s camp is making a little too much of his military history.

John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, August 28, 2008 5:43 PM

No celebrity reference. No charge that Barack Obama isn’t ready to lead, no inclusion of criticism from Hillary Rodham Clinton. No more of the attacks the McCain camp has been bombarding the Democratic convention with all week.

In "Convention Night," released just hours before Obama takes the stage at Invesco Field to accept his party's nomination, John McCain gives kudos to his opponent. "Senator Obama, this is truly a good day for America," McCain says, facing the camera. "Too often the achievements of our opponents go unnoticed. So I wanted to stop and say: Congratulations."

The Arizona senator goes on to acknowledge the significance of Obama speaking on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. "How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day," McCain says to his opponent. "Tomorrow, we'll be back at it. But tonight, Senator, job well done."

The 30-second spot keeps things simple. McCain faces the camera in front of a nondescript background, and no text rolls across the screen. Brian Rogers, spokesman for the campaign, called the ad "unprecedented" in an e-mail sent earlier today alerting reporters. It will air in battleground states as well as national cable tonight as Obama speaks to nearly 80,000 supporters in Denver.

John McCain

Thursday, August 28, 2008 2:38 PM

John McCain is determined to steal some of the attention away from Barack Obama when the Democratic nominee speaks tonight at Invesco Stadium. The camp is planning on releasing an ad later today that shows McCain speaking directly to the camera as if to Obama. Communications director Jill Hazelbaker referred to the spot as "historic" when she appeared on a morning talk show today.

The ad will air in battleground states around the time Obama will be accepting his party's nomination in Denver, Hazelbaker said on "Morning Joe." The campaign hopes that it generates buzz. "I'm not going to give away many more details... but suffice to say it's going to be a very exciting ad, and I think it's going to get a lot of attention."

Check back here later today for more on this ad.

John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 7:24 PM

John McCain's camp is keeping a close eye on the Democratic convention schedule, coordinating its attack ads with speakers and topics. Tonight’s convention focus is national security, and McCain’s new spot hits Barack Obama where it may hurt the most: his foreign policy credentials, or, as McCain argues, the lack thereof.

"Tiny" (subscription) uses statements Obama made at a rally in May to assert that the Illinois senator doesn't think Iran is a serious threat. "Obama says Iran is a 'tiny' country, 'doesn't pose a serious threat.' Terrorism? Destroying Israel? Those aren't 'serious threats'?" the announcer chides. Reiterating McCain's attack staple that his opponent doesn't have the experience needed to lead, the ad concludes: "Obama: dangerously unprepared to be president."

This is the latest of several ads the campaign has recently released -- one every day of the Democratic convention. Indeed, it was no coincidence that the GOP released two ads portraying Hillary Rodham Clinton in a light favorable to McCain and unfavorable to her own party's candidate on Tuesday -- when she delivered a speech urging her millions of supporters and attending delegates to rally behind Obama.

Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 12:55 PM

Hillary Rodham Clinton takes center stage in Denver tonight for her speech at the Democratic National Convention. But as Democrats scramble to project a message of party unity, Republicans are also putting the New York senator front and center -- in a series of new attack ads intended to keep the focus on Democratic divisions.

On Monday, John McCain's camp released "Debra," in which former Clinton delegate Debra Bartoshevich endorses the Arizona senator. "I respect his maverick and independent streak, and now he's the one with the experience and judgment," Bartoshevich says. "A lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It's OK, really!"

The Wisconsin Democratic Party rescinded Bartoshevich's delegate status in July after she publicly stated that she would vote for McCain if Barack Obama won the nomination over Clinton.

In another negative spot released Tuesday morning, the McCain camp explicitly borrows from Clinton's infamous "3 a.m." ad released during the Democratic primary campaign. McCain's version uses the same stock footage and voice-over as the Clinton spot and suggests that the New York senator was right to question Obama's readiness to lead. The ad also shows video of nuclear missiles and Islamic radicals to reiterate the Republicans' claim that the next president will take office at a dangerous point in history and must be ready to protect America.

Continue reading McCain, RNC Pursue Clinton Strategy

Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, August 25, 2008 5:37 PM

The McCain camp is asking the same question that large numbers of Hillary Rodham Clinton supporters are asking -- why isn't she Barack Obama's VP? The campaign released "Passed Over" early Sunday -- 3 a.m., to be exact. Not coincidentally, this is the same time Obama sent a text message announcing Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., as his running mate. It also harks back to Clinton's infamous "3 a.m." ad on national security.

"She won millions of votes, but isn't on his ticket. Why?" an announcer chides. "For speaking the truth." The ad goes on to air footage of Clinton criticizing Obama on a number of points, including his involvement with convicted Chicago developer Tony Rezko, something a spot the campaign released last week scrutinized as well. The ad concludes by implying this criticism is why the Illinois senator didn't pick Clinton as his running mate: "The truth hurt. And Obama didn't like it."

The ad doesn't actually mention the words "passed over" and doesn't attempt to persuade Clinton supporters to vote for John McCain. Nonetheless, the spot capitalized on a touchy issue at an opportune time, right before the Democratic convention officially started today. By highlighting the divisive relationship between the two Democrats and the still-fresh political wounds millions of Clinton supporters may be feeling, the campaign is implicitly suggesting McCain is a better option for these voters than Obama.

What does Clinton think about the spot? She's not too pleased, according to this statement issued today by spokeswoman Kathleen Strand: "Hillary Clinton's support of Barack Obama is clear. She has said repeatedly that Barack Obama and she share a commitment to changing the direction of the country, getting us out of Iraq, and expanding access to health care. John McCain doesn't. It's interesting how those remarks didn't make it into his ad."

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Saturday, August 23, 2008 7:24 PM

While the city of Denver, media organizations and Washington lawmakers and insiders have been busy preparing for the Democratic convention, the two presidential campaigns have been busy fighting an on-air ad battle. In the last 48 hours, the candidates have released a combined eight ads -- five from Barack Obama and three from John McCain, including a hard-hitting spot released soon after Obama's running-mate announcement of Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., early this morning.

The ad shows Biden expressing his support for McCain and casting doubt on Obama's ability to lead the country. The footage is from an early presidential debate where Biden said he stood by a statement he made that he didn’t think Obama is ready to lead the country. The spot closes with footage of an interview where Biden said he supports McCain: "I would be honored to run with or against John McCain, because I think the country would be better off," Biden says.

The McCain campaign also released this statement by spokesman Ben Porritt: "There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden. Biden has denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing -- that Barack Obama is not ready to be President.”

Indeed, gone are the days of positive ads -- all the other spots the campaigns have released in the last two days have gone on the attack as well. McCain is continuing the "celebrity" theme, casting doubt on Obama's ability to lead the country, while the Illinois senator is hammering home a comment McCain made that he didn't know how many homes he owned.

Here's a rundown of all the ads.

Continue reading Biden, Houses Star In Volley Of Attacks

Barack Obama, John McCain, Radio Ad, Television Ad

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 4:15 PM

After a series of recent John McCain ads calling Barack Obama's tax plan "a recipe for economic disaster," Obama returned fire today with "Three Times" (subscription), arguing that McCain's economic plan will only benefit big businesses, not hard-working Americans.

An announcer claims that McCain's tax plan will give $200 million in tax breaks to big businesses and $4 million to oil companies, and will reward companies that export jobs while "100 million Americans get no tax relief at all." He then cites two newspaper sources that say Obama's plan will cut middle-class taxes three times as much as McCain's would. "Can we really afford more of the same?" he asks, linking McCain to the Bush administration.

Meanwhile, the Arizona senator released a radio ad today, "Millions" (subscription), charging that Obama plans to spend $863 billion in taxpayer dollars on new government programs. An announcer opens the ad with what has become a signature theme: "Celebrities like to spend their millions. Barack Obama is no different. Only it's your money he wants to spend." The ad claims that Obama's plans will ultimately raise taxes for families on everything from income to electric bills to life savings: "Ready to tax. Ready to spend. Not ready to lead."

Both "Three Times" and "Millions" are running in Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other battlegrounds.

John McCain, Senate Race, Television Ad, Third-Party Ad

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 1:35 PM

MoveOn.org unveiled its first Senate ad of this election cycle on Tuesday, targeting Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., as well as John McCain, for their ties to Big Oil. The half-million dollar buy begins airing throughout North Carolina today.

In "Pocket" (subscription), MoveOn echoes an ad Barack Obama released under the same title at the beginning of August that attacks McCain for his connections to oil companies. In MoveOn's ad, an announcer argues that, instead of working toward clean energy and independence from foreign oil, "John McCain and Elizabeth Dole allowed big oil companies to keep $13.5 billion dollars in tax breaks, while taking huge contributions from Big Oil."

Dole is facing an increasingly close battle with state Sen. Kay Hagan (D) to retain her seat. The latest polling shows Hagan has cut a double-digit lead to 6 percentage points. Perhaps this is evidence that the incessant attacks the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has thrown at Dole -- most notably for her low rating (subscription) in a recent congressional effectiveness study -- are starting to resonate with North Carolina voters.

Continue reading MoveOn.org Berates N.C.'s Dole In First '08 Senate Ad

John McCain, Radio Ad

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 4:50 PM

John McCain continues his attempts to win over Hispanic voters from Barack Obama, releasing a radio ad today in Florida and the Southwest -- a Spanish-language version of a spot released earlier this month.

In "Recipe" (subscription), an announcer references several media reports, including a Sept. 2007 editorial by the Las Vegas Review-Journal describing Obama's policies as a "recipe for economic disaster." The announcer concludes, in Spanish: "More taxes. Higher gas prices. A recipe for economic disaster. That's the real Obama."

Campaign spokesman Brian Rogers said the reasoning behind releasing this ad in Spanish as well as English is simple: The economy is something everyone in the country contends with. "Most Hispanic Americans are concerned about mainly the same issues that all Americans are," Rogers said. "It's a message that resonates very widely."

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, August 18, 2008 10:28 AM

The on-air back-and-forth between Barack Obama and John McCain intensified Friday, as the Illinois senator continued to pound his opponent over a past business deal that led to job losses in Ohio and the McCain team shot back with another derisive ad about Obama's celebrity status.

Obama had already released a radio ad (subscription) in Ohio on Aug. 8 highlighting McCain's connection to DHL, the foreign-owned shipping company, which recently eliminated 8,200 jobs in the state.

On Friday, he followed up with "Punch" (subscription), a TV ad that features comments from Ohio residents distressed over the job losses. "If DHL -- I mean, if something happens, it's going to be like a ghost town," one woman frets. An announcer charges: "In Washington, John McCain helped pave the way for foreign-owned DHL to take over an American shipping company," eventually leading to the job cuts. He notes that McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, was a "lead lobbyist" for the company. "It's tough times when it's a foreign entity coming in and sucker-punching us," says an Ohio man who lost his job.

The McCain campaign was quick to respond, launching its own TV spot Friday afternoon. "Maybe" (subscription) cites a FactCheck.org analysis that calls Obama's allegations "misleading." "Maybe the applause is going to his head," an announcer remarks, as the same familiar footage of Obama in front of cheering crowds in Berlin plays on screen. He insists that "it's Obama’s taxes that will hurt Ohio families." And hitting once again upon the "inexperienced" argument, he concludes: "That's the real Obama: ready to tax, not ready to lead."

With its 20 electoral votes, Ohio is viewed as a crucial swing state for both candidates, and recent polling shows Obama and McCain in a dead heat.

John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, August 15, 2008 11:08 AM

In an effort to quell criticism, Barack Obama released more details of his tax plan on Thursday. But John McCain signaled this morning that he has no intention of letting up in his effort to portray Obama as a "job-killing" tax-raiser.

In a new TV ad, "Taxman" (subscription), McCain uses newspaper headlines to issue dire warnings about what Obama's tax ideas will mean for the average family's budget. "The press warns the 'taxman cometh,'" an announcer declares, with the headline of a Wall Street Journal editorial flashing on screen. The spot also cites a Washington Post piece claiming that Obama's taxes will lead to higher gas prices and a Las Vegas Review-Journal article from 2007 calling "Obama's taxes a 'recipe for economic disaster.'"

The announcer also continues the celebrity theme, now a staple of McCain's anti-Obama spots: "Celebrity? Yes. Ready to lead? No."

Tax policy is an area where Obama and McCain have some very real disagreements. McCain backs an extension of President Bush's tax cuts, while Obama intends to let them expire as planned in 2010. Obama is also calling for a $1,000 tax cut for middle-class families -- which McCain's ad fails to mention.

John McCain, Radio Ad

Tuesday, August 12, 2008 6:05 PM

In two new radio ads John McCain released Friday, Barack Obama is again pegged as a "celebrity" unfit to lead, offering tax plans that will hurt middle-class America.

"Are You Ready For Obama?" (subscription), a Spanish-language ad running in Florida, opens by reiterating the campaign's "celebrity" theme: "No doubt, Barack Obama is a popular figure, a celebrity who says the right thing. But will he do the right thing?" The ad goes on to scrutinize the Illinois senator's tax plans, claiming that both his voting record and positions on taxes show he supports increases for families and seniors. This is the campaign's first ad in Spanish attacking Obama, who is garnering nearly 70 percent of Hispanic voters in recent polling.

In "Recipe" (subscription), McCain capitalizes on media reports that have criticized Obama's tax plans, including a Sept. 2007 Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial that called the Democrat's policies a "recipe for economic disaster." "Barack Obama has a history of raising taxes -- even on middle-class Americans making just $42,000 a year," an announcer declares -- a claim that FactCheck.org says is false. "If elected president," the announcer goes on, "Obama's promises would mean even more taxes on income, electricity, oil, small business, seniors, your life savings, your family."

Barack Obama, John McCain

Monday, August 11, 2008 4:15 PM

Recent editions of "National Journal On Air" have featured some back-and-forth from the presidential campaigns themselves on the confrontational tone of recent ads.

Barack Obama spokesman Bill Burton, on the John McCain ads "Painful" and "Family":

"First of all, [the McCain campaign's] not actually putting any money behind these spots. Second of all, I don't know which polls you're looking at, but for the most part the race is in the exact same spot it has been. And this is after John McCain has put up a half-dozen spots that just lie all throughout."

(Complete interview)

John McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer, on his ad, "Celeb":

"It points directly to the fact that at this time when Americans are facing higher energy prices, [Obama] is against offshore drilling and he is in favor of taxes on energy sources and increasing taxes other places as well. So, it talks about policy in that ad. It just acknowledges the political situation that we are in, where we're running against a celebrity."

(Complete interview)

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, August 8, 2008 3:30 PM

Things turned nasty on the campaign trail this week, as Barack Obama and John McCain traded barbs and accusations, particularly on the topic of energy, and each camp released a series of negative TV ads.

Obama has been quiet about his attack spots, often not releasing details to the media, but two ads put out by the campaign popped up online this week.

"National Priorities" (subscription) slams McCain for being part of a system in Washington that has ignored the country's energy crisis for decades. McCain's "been in Washington for 26 years. And as gas prices soared and dependence on oil exploded, McCain was voting against alternative energy, against higher mileage standards," an announcer charges. Obama, on other hand, offers a "real plan" and innovative solutions to create alternative forms of energy.

The Obama camp also responded this week to a McCain ad that touted the Arizona senator's "maverick" credentials. "Original" (subscription) shows a 2003 Fox News clip of McCain claiming that he has voted with President Bush "over 90 percent of the time." An announcer asks, "The original maverick or just more of the same?" as a photo of McCain and Bush arm-in-arm flashes on screen.

The McCain camp shot back today with its third ad of the week, again casting Obama as a shallow celebrity. In "Painful" (subscription), which will be cycled into the 11-state buy of the earlier "Family" and will run during the Olympics, once again casts Obama as a shallow celebrity.

Continue reading McCain & Obama On The Dark Side

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, August 7, 2008 4:25 PM

The world will be watching as athletes from around the world face off in two weeks worth of competitions beginning Friday in Beijing. But American viewers will witness another spectacle, as well -- the presidential campaign.

Rather than take any time off from the furious schedule of the election season, Barack Obama and John McCain will continue to broadcast their message to voters around the country, as both have purchased advertising time on the network of NBC Universal channels that will be broadcasting the Games -- including NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Oxygen and Telemundo.

Obama announced his ad buy several weeks ago, but the McCain camp one-upped the Illinois senator on Tuesday, announcing he would top Obama's $5 million purchase by an additional $1 million. The spots will run on network and cable channels between Friday, when the Games begin, and August 25, the day before the Democratic National Convention begins in Denver.

The ad buys are unusual in that, in recent years, campaigns have focused their resources on certain battleground states or cable television channels. Advertising Age, which broke the news of McCain's Olympics purchase, reports that these purchases "are the first substantial buys of national network TV by any presidential candidate in 12 years."

Neither campaign would comment on the decision to run ads during the Olympics or release any information about what kind of spots they will be airing.

John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, August 6, 2008 1:09 PM

After casting Barack Obama as a celebrity incapable of leading the country, the John McCain camp is up with a new ad saying the Democrat is unable to help America’s families.

The opening of "Family" (subscription) is reminiscent of McCain’s controversial "Celeb" ad, showing footage from Obama’s speech in Berlin backed by a crowd chanting Obama’s name. "Is the biggest celebrity in the world ready to help your family?" an announcer asks viewers. "The real Obama promises higher taxes, more government spending. So, fewer jobs." The spot then seeks to absorb Obama's emphasis on renewable energy into McCain's energy plan: "Renewable energy to transform our economy, create jobs and energy independence, that's John McCain." Missing is any mention of offshore drilling.

McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said the ad emphasizes the Arizona senator's "all of the above" approach, which includes both offshore drilling and renewable energy, as well as nuclear power and conservation. The campaign plans to continue the theme of ads homing in on Obama's "celebrity" status, Rogers said.

"It’s the theme of this campaign. He’s the biggest celebrity in the world," he said. "The question for Americans is: Does that mean he has the experience and judgment to lead? Our answer is no."

Obama spokesman Bill Burton responded to the ad in an e-mail: "Another day brings another dishonest attack from John McCain." Burton took some jabs at McCain’s claims and concluded by saying that "it's time to retire these old policies and bring new energy to America."

Continue reading McCain Keeps Pushing, 'Family'-Style

John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, August 5, 2008 12:40 PM

It takes a "maverick" to tackle the special interests that have taken over Washington, according to John McCain's "Broken" (subscription), launched today.

"Washington's broken. John McCain knows it. We're worse off than we were four years ago," an announcer says in the ad. "Only McCain has taken on Big Tobacco, drug companies, fought corruption in both parties. He'll reform Wall Street, battle Big Oil, make America prosper again. He's the original maverick."

The ad aims to separate McCain from an unpopular president and an ailing GOP. "The American people are looking for somebody who is independent -- somebody who does what he thinks is right and maybe not what's always in their political self-interest," said campaign spokesman Brian Rogers. "And that's John McCain's record." Rogers cited the McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill as an example of the Arizona senator's ability to reform a "broken" Washington by working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Departing from the strategy of McCain's recent attack ads, "Broken" doesn't mention Barack Obama. It does, however, play up McCain's experience -- something he believes his Democratic rival can't match. "He's very eloquent," Rogers said of Obama. "But he has zero record of bringing people together to solve tough problems and going against his own party when it's necessary."

John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, August 1, 2008 7:00 PM

The debate over John McCain's "Celeb" ad, which intersperses images of Barack Obama with shots of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, rages on. In today's edition of "National Journal On Air," host Tammy Haddad broached the controversy with no fewer than eight guests.

Obama spokesman Bill Burton said the ad's content, as well as McCain's defense of it, was "ridiculous." Hotline's Jennifer Skalka characterized it as a "demeaning, derogatory ad." The Huffington Post's Hilary Rosen found it ironic that McCain, who she said had capitalized on his own celebrity status, was now "whining about someone else's fame."

Atlantic Media political director Ronald Brownstein took the critique a step further, arguing that "by associating Obama visually" with "two young white women," the McCain camp was playing the "race card" in a manner reminiscent of the controversial 2006 Republican National Committee ad (subscription) run against Tennessee Senate candidate Harold Ford Jr. XM radio host Joe Madison echoed this assessment, bristling at the ad's comparison between Obama and "two blonde bimbos."

Atlantic senior editor Ross Douthat took issue with this racial reading, but did acknowledge that he found the ad "frivolous and stupid." Republican consultant Alex Castellanos, who himself once produced a controversial, racially charged spot -- Jesse Helms' 1990 "Hands " -- said "Celeb" raised a legitimate point: "Fame without substance can be a trap." But he questioned whether its less-than-serious tone reflected well on the McCain camp.

The only unapologetic defense of "Celeb" came from McCain economic adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer, who insisted that its real subject was energy costs. "All it does is give a nod at the beginning to the fact that Senator Obama is a world celebrity," she said.

The interviews with Burton, Pfotenhauer and Madison, as well as the panel discussion with Rosen and Castellanos, can be heard here. The roundtable discussion featuring Brownstein, Douthat and Skalka can be heard here.

John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, July 31, 2008 12:46 PM

There's nothing like the Hollywood notoriety of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears to add some juicy gossip to the increasingly heated attacks between John McCain and Barack Obama. Reaction to McCain's new ad, "Celeb" (subscription), has been widespread, divisive and, at times, simply sarcastic.

The Obama campaign released an ad of its own (subscription) Wednesday evening in response to McCain's attacks in general but clearly triggered by this latest spot. Citing media reports that denounce some attacks the Arizona senator has launched against Obama, an announcer says: "John McCain. Same old politics. Same failed policies." The ad then aims to reaffirm Obama's commitment to solving the energy crisis. This ad is fresh on the heels of another spot the Illinois senator's campaign released earlier this week also responding to McCain's barrage.

Comments from both campaigns, as well as the blogosphere, have circulated faster than perhaps even Hilton's infamous sex tape. Here's a roundup of a few noteworthy ones:

Obama's initial response, from Missouri, when a reporter asked him about the ad: "You know, I don't pay attention to John McCain's ads. Although I do notice that he doesn't seem to have anything to say very positive about himself. He seems to only be talking about me. You need to ask John McCain what he's for, not just what he's against."

McCain adviser Rick Davis, in a conference call with reporters Wednesday: "This ad obviously also addresses a unique facet in Barack Obama's campaign that is unlike any other campaign we've seen in modern political history. A campaign that is focused on the development of an enormous image of celebrity status.... In the early aspects of the ad, we have images of other celebrities that demonstrate that the focus of the Obama campaign has been as much to create that celebrity status of his as it is to discuss the hard issues that the American public are forced to debate during the course of this campaign."

Continue reading 'Celeb' Ad Elicts Heated Reaction

Barack Obama, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, July 28, 2008 1:45 PM

John McCain isn't letting up on Barack Obama. His new ad, released Saturday, blasts his Democratic rival for not visiting wounded U.S. troops while overseas last week. The ad received a great deal of buzz over the weekend on various talk shows, and both camps rushed in to explain or elaborate.

"He made time to go to the gym, but canceled a visit with wounded troops," an announcer says in "Troops" (subscription). The 30-second ad refers to Obama's decision to cancel a visit to a U.S. military hospital in Germany and cites reports that the senator made time to exercise at a hotel gym earlier that day, before his speech in Berlin. The campaign said it was because the Pentagon told him his campaign staff couldn't go with him and that the visit might be viewed as politically motivated. "Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras," the announcer says, making a not-so-subtle jab at the amount of press coverage Obama has been getting; the ad concludes, "John McCain is always there for our troops." While Obama didn’t visit, he did make phone calls to wounded troops at the hospital.

Response to McCain's ad was quick. Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., who accompanied Obama on his trip to the Middle East, appeared on CBS' "Face The Nation" on Sunday. Hagel said McCain is "treading on some very thin ground here when he impugns motives and when we start to get into 'You're less patriotic than me, I'm more patriotic.'" Reed defended Obama's dedication to U.S. troops, citing numerous trips the three senators made in the Middle East to visit them. "That is a completely distorted and, I think, inappropriate advertisement," Reed said.

Continue reading Gym Trumps Troops, Ad Says

Barack Obama, John McCain, Radio Ad

Friday, July 25, 2008 3:30 PM

While Barack Obama was delivering his much-anticipated speech in Berlin on Thursday, the Republican National Committee was busy making sure that voters back home got a different message about the Illinois senator. As a counterpoint to Obama's stop in Germany, the RNC launched a radio ad (subscription) in Berlin, Penn., Berlin, Wis., and Berlin, N.H., accusing him of putting politics ahead of America's troops.

Today, timed with Obama's visit to France, the ad is also running in Paris, Mo., Paris, Mich., and Paris, Maine; and Saturday, when Obama is in Great Britain, it will air in London, Ohio, and London, W.Va.

“As Barack Obama is globe-trotting across Europe, voters back in Berlin, Paris, and London, USA want to know why he voted against funding our military and refuses to admit that he was wrong on the troop surge," RNC spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson said.

Continue reading While Barack's Away...

John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, July 25, 2008 2:50 PM

With attack ads from Planned Parenthood and the Alliance For Retired Americans still fresh, John McCain has taken a hit from a group representing one of his traditionally dependable voter blocs: veterans.

VoteVets.org is launching a nationwide ad, "Iraqi Freedom" (subscription), today that calls out the GOP candidate for not supporting a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq. This ad comes on the heels of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s announcement that he favors a timetable similar to the one Barack Obama has advocated. Al-Maliki and Obama aren't the only ones pushing for a stricter timetable: A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows 60 percent of Americans favor one.

Continue reading Ads And Iraq: Timing Is Everything

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

Barack Obama, John McCain

Monday, July 21, 2008 3:40 PM

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Perhaps that’s the idea John McCain is borrowing as he joins virtually every segment of the media -- reporters, pundits and talk-show hosts galore -- in focusing on Barack Obama. Of course, McCain will only follow up to a point -- he’s blasting Obama on everything from Iraq to gasoline prices in a pair of new ads, one of which was released on the eve of Obama’s highly anticipated trip to the Middle East and Europe.

On Friday, the GOP candidate's campaign released "Troop Funding" (subscription), an ad that accuses Obama of flip-flopping on the Iraq war, and followed it up with another spot released today, "Pump" (subscription), that blames high gasoline prices on Obama's unwillingness to drill domestically. While the McCain campaign has released ads before that implicitly attack Obama, these are the first that mention his Democratic rival by name.

Continue reading Barrage On Barack

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

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

Immigration, John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, July 11, 2008 1:00 PM

Conspicuously timed amid a slew of appearances in front of prominent Latino organizations, John McCain released a new ad today in Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, praising Latinos for serving in the U.S. military and alluding to immigration reform.

"God's Children" (subscription) replays comments McCain made at a 2007 primary debate. "When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today," McCain says, "you're going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background" -- including some "who are not even citizens of this country, who love this country so much that they're willing to risk their lives in its service in order to accelerate their path to citizenship and enjoy the bountiful, blessed nation." He concludes by encouraging viewers to "remember that these are God's children."

The ad also mentions McCain's stance on immigration, which some say has shifted throughout the campaign: "They must come into the country legally, but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them," McCain says of Latinos, as Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., the anti-immigration candidate, looks on uncomfortably.

Continue reading McCain's Latino 'Children'

John McCain, Radio Ad

Wednesday, July 9, 2008 4:45 PM

Some veterans, at least, are none too pleased with John McCain right now. New TV and radio ads up this week scrutinize the Arizona senator on his congressional voting record relating to veterans legislation, specifically on health care.

The AFL-CIO's new veterans council is releasing a TV ad (subscription) Thursday that features Navy veteran Jim Wasser, who served with John Kerry in Vietnam and took part in a similar direct-mail campaign (subscription) for the labor organization this spring. "Every vet respects John McCain’s war record," Wasser says in the 30-second spot, hearkening back to retired Gen. Wesley Clark’s recent comments. "It’s his record in the Senate that I have a problem with. He wants us to continue spending $10 billion a month in Iraq just like Bush."

Continue reading Vetting McCain

Defense, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 12:36 PM

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark's comments casting doubt on how John McCain's military experience prepares him for the presidency must have really irked the Arizona senator. The campaign is up today with a new ad that couldn’t make any clearer the "Love" (subscription) McCain feels for his country -- and how this patriotism qualifies him to be president over Barack Obama.

The ad opens with images of 1967’s "Summer of Love," complete with hippies protesting the war and frolicking with each other. The announcer then shifts into a more somber note: "Half a world away, another kind of love -- of country. John McCain: Shot down. Bayoneted. Tortured." Speaking over pictures of McCain serving in Vietnam, the announcer stresses how the Republican's patriotism has shone through during his time overseas and his years in Congress. "His philosophy: before party, polls and self -- America," the announcer says.

The spot then makes a direct attack on Obama's infamous "change we can believe in" rhetoric and "hope" slogan. "John McCain doesn't always tell us what we 'hope' to hear. Beautiful words cannot make our lives better." The ad concludes with one more jab at the Democrat: "Don't 'hope' for a better life. Vote for one."

While the Illinois senator has been accused of flip-flopping on a number of key issues, including his stance on the Iraq war, McCain has capitalized by highlighting his comparably steadfast and consistent record on the war.

Barack Obama, Economy, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, July 7, 2008 11:50 AM

The Republican National Committee began running a TV spot on energy over the weekend in four key battleground states, making this the first ad either party has released since the general election campaign began in earnest this summer.

"Balance" (subscription), running in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio, touts John McCain's "balanced" energy plan while attacking Barack Obama for offering "no new solutions."

"Record gas prices, climate in crisis -- John McCain says solve it now with a balanced plan: alternative energy, conservation, suspending the gas tax and more production here at home," the ad's narrator says. Ironically, the RNC praises McCain in the ad for bucking the party. "He's pushing his own party to face climate change," the narrator says, in contrast to Obama, who she says offers "just the party line" on energy.

Continue reading Let The Party (Ads) Begin

John McCain, Radio Ad

Thursday, July 3, 2008 3:31 PM

John McCain may be far behind Barack Obama in his quest for the Hispanic vote, but at least one Latino is showing strong support for the GOP nominee. In the Spanish-language radio ad "Our Values" (subscription), released today, McCain's roommate from the U.S. Naval Academy, Frank Gamboa, shows some love for his former bunk buddy.

The ad, running in New Mexico and Nevada, stresses that McCain shares Latinos' "conservative values and faith in God," as Gamboa says in Spanish. "He knows that family is the focal part of our lives and that we value hard work."

Gamboa also doesn't shy away from making a not-so-subtle jab at Obama. "This election, it seems to me that the other candidate has just discovered the importance of the Hispanic vote. So when it comes to our values and understanding Latinos this election, I know for John it's not political; it comes from the heart," Gamboa concludes.

This ad buy comes on the heels of another Spanish-language ad McCain's campaign released Wednesday in Florida touting the Arizona senator's support for the free-trade pact proposed between Colombia and the U.S. McCain clearly sees the Southwest as a prime place to target Latino voters, as evident in an earlier Spanish-language ad addressing economic issues (subscription) he released in the region in early June.

John McCain, Radio Ad

Thursday, July 3, 2008 1:50 PM

Capitalizing on his trip to Latin America this week, John McCain released a Spanish-language radio ad on Wednesday touting his support for a proposed free trade agreement between Colombia and the United States.

"Colombia Trade" (subscription), which is running on Spanish-language stations in Florida, features Tony Villamil, the state's former director of Tourism, Commerce and Economic Affairs, praising the Arizona senator for his support of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement.

"Colombia is Florida's third most important export market, and this trade agreement would create almost 5,000 new jobs," Villamil says in the ad. "John McCain supports the Colombian agreement, knows about our alliances with our hemisphere and understands our economy grows thanks to trade."

Villamil also takes a swipe at Barack Obama: "In this election, there are some that talk about revising the free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada and oppose the agreement with Colombia. This would hurt our economic future."

Continue reading The Free Trade Express

John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, June 27, 2008 1:59 PM

In a new ad released today, "Purpose" (subscription), John McCain continues his theme of energy independence as a quest not unlike the mission to the moon in the 1960s.

"American technology protected the world. We went to the moon, not because it was easy, but because it was hard," an announcer says in the ad. "John McCain will call America to our next national purpose: energy security."

On Wednesday, McCain finally put a name to the energy plan he has been shaping -- the Lexington Project -- and asserted that it will overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, just like John F. Kennedy's call for a moon mission did nearly half a century ago. The ad reflects McCain's call for "domestic drilling" and "energy alternatives."

The ad never mentions the Republican senator's party affiliation. Perhaps in an attempt to target independent voters -- who are going for Democrat Barack Obama in several swing states, according to new polling -- the announcer stresses that it's a "bipartisan plan."

John McCain, Web Ad

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 12:25 PM

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words... can get you in a pretty big mess too. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain is up with a new Web ad today that attacks Democratic rival Barack Obama for his decision to opt out of the public finance system. The ad, called "Words," uses Obama's against him in an attempt to show that the Illinois senator flip-flopped on his position supporting the system.

The spot highlights various speeches and interviews Obama has given, including those where he pledged to work with the Arizona senator, as well as the video message he sent out informing supporters of his decision to forgo public financing. The ad repeats a clip of Obama saying "don't tell me words don't matter" while displaying various media reports chastising him for his change in positions.

Even though the two raised roughly even amounts of money in May, Obama has continually surpassed McCain in his fundraising efforts, which could help explain some of his reasoning for opting out. With his campaign raising a record-breaking amount nearing $300 million so far -- far more than the meager $84 million specified in the public finance system -- clearly Obama doesn't need the taxpayer help.

John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 3:45 PM

It may not be a Super Tuesday in the traditional sense, but it sure is one busy day for John McCain. He's touting his commitment to the global warming fight in a new ad (subscription) while calling for domestic drilling to lower gas prices in a speech today in Houston. Meanwhile, another ad (subscription) launched today attacks the presumptive GOP nominee for his willingness to stay in Iraq for "100 years."

MoveOn.org and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' political action committee jointly released the new 30-second nationwide spot, which intends to tug at voters' heartstrings. In "Not Alex," a mother holds her infant child and says, "So, John McCain, when you said you would stay in Iraq for 100 years, were you counting on Alex? Because if you were, you can’t have him."

"McCain has tried to give voters the impression that he is a critic of the war in Iraq," said Eli Pariser, executive director of MoveOn.org, adding that the Arizona senator's voting record shows that he "has been with [President] Bush every step of the way" in supporting the war. "Our new ad sets the record straight and speaks for the millions of Americans who don't want to see another quagmire in Iraq by a President McCain."

Continue reading Super Tuesday

John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, June 12, 2008 3:15 PM

MoveOn.org has gone Hollywood. In its latest TV ad, actor John Cusack quizzes voters on the differences -- or lack thereof -- between the presumptive GOP nominee and the current president. "Think you can tell President Bush apart from John McCain? Really?" asks Cusack in the ad (subscription). He then fires off a series of questions relating to the two politicians' stances on the Iraq war, health care and Social Security, which the ad contends are virtually identical. "Bet you can't tell them apart," Cusack says.

This is the second ad MoveOn.org has released in its "Bush-McCain Challenge" campaign, which also includes an online game and events around the country intended to draw parallels between the two Republicans. The first spot, released at the end of May, sent the same message but with a more satirical, less earnest tone.

Ilyse Hogue, communications director for MoveOn.org, said it "seemed natural" to work with Cusack on the ad since his take on the election is "really closely aligned" with MoveOn.org's: that a McCain administration would amount to another four years of President Bush's policies.

Continue reading Lights, Cameras, (Political) Action

John McCain, Radio Ad

Wednesday, June 11, 2008 1:30 PM

John McCain is continuing his quest to close in on the solid lead Barack Obama has garnered among Latino voters.

Fresh on the heels of two Spanish radio ads the presumptive GOP nominee released last week in Nevada and New Mexico, the campaign launched another (subscription) in South Florida on Tuesday that focuses on Cuba. The 60-second spot features Roberto Martin Perez, who was a Cuban political prisoner for nearly three decades, relating to McCain's experience as a POW and taking a veiled shot at Obama, who has said he would meet with Cuban President Raul Castro. "As someone who has survived the harsh conditions of the Vietnamese prisons, John McCain knows that freedom in Cuba won't be achieved with concessions to dictatorships," Perez says in Spanish.

Continue reading Operation Hispanic Vote

John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, June 9, 2008 4:40 PM

Scrutiny surrounding John McCain's ties to various lobbyists continues, as nonprofit group Campaign Money Watch launched a TV ad today in conjunction with a complaint to the Federal Election Commission.

"The McCain File" (subscription) delves into the presumptive GOP nominee's role in awarding an Air Force contract to "a French company" -- Airbus -- instead of "an American company," Boeing. An announcer claims that "seven of McCain's staff and fundraisers lobbied for Airbus," whose "U.S. executives" contributed more to McCain "than any other politician." "And guess what?" the announcer continues. "John McCain intervened, which helped Airbus get that Pentagon contract."

Continue reading McCain's Lobbyist Problem, Revisited

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

John McCain, Radio Ad

Friday, June 6, 2008 1:25 PM

In his first ads of the general election campaign, John McCain is directing his attention to the economic struggles of Hispanic voters in the Southwest.

The Spanish-language radio ad (subscription), which began running in Nevada and New Mexico on June 4, tout McCain's plans to revive the economy -- such as his proposed federal gas-tax holiday -- with an emphasis on bipartisanship.

"When we are filling up the gas tank, we are not Republicans, Democrats or independents," an announcer says in Spanish. "We are Hispanics, and we all are hurting together in this uncertain economic time."

"We need someone that has a good economic plan," he adds, "and that is John McCain."

These will be the first of several McCain spots to come, after his campaign recently bought a reported $3 million of airtime in both large and small markets in states such as Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 3:00 PM

Who's taken a stronger stance on assault weapons, President Bush or John McCain? Which one said U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators in Iraq? Was it both?

These are questions MoveOn.org Political Action is asking voters in its new "Bush-McCain Challenge" ad campaign, the group's latest effort to tie the presumptive Republican nominee to his party's unpopular president. The push includes a new TV spot (subscription) launched yesterday, an online trivia game and more than 300 events across the country, all intended to draw parallels between the two Republicans' track records.

The music chosen for the ad -- the theme song of the 1960s "Patty Duke Show" -- makes sport of similar statements made by McCain and Bush, including downplaying the troubled economy. "They laugh alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike," goes the jingle, as viewers are directed to take MoveOn's online quiz comparing their policy positions. Between shots of the pair dancing and joking onstage, the ad includes footage from Bush's official endorsement of McCain at the White House in March.

The group's campaign is capitalizing on McCain's first public appearance with Bush since the endorsement, at a campaign stop held yesterday in Phoenix. Though the event was brief -- they were together in front of the cameras for less than a minute -- the two have been participating in private fundraisers throughout Arizona. But McCain has made an effort in recent speeches to counter claims that he will merely continue Bush's legacy, putting daylight between himself and the president on issues such as global warming and foreign policy.

Economy, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 4:00 PM

Amid criticism for his stance against the 21st-century GI bill and his attempts at defending that position, as well as the continual veep questions, John McCain had his hands full over the long Memorial Day weekend. Now, McCain is attempting to refocus by setting his sights on two battleground states -- Pennsylvania and Michigan. An ad his campaign originally debuted in Iowa earlier this month will launch tomorrow in both states.

In a time of growing public discontent with the weakening economy, "Accountable" (subscription) attempts to soothe economic worries. "The great goal is to get the American economy running at full strength again -- creating the opportunities Americans expect and the jobs Americans need," McCain asserts in the ad.

An announcer contends that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee will revive the economy by simplifying taxes, making energy "cleaner, cheaper" and holding CEOs "accountable."

Oddly enough, a woman seen shaking hands with McCain in the video is wearing a Barack Obama shirt. Poor producing? Maybe. A subtle way to show McCain is all for bipartisanship? Perhaps. Regardless, though, it caught the attention of Politico blogger Ben Smith.

Defense, John McCain, Senate Race, Television Ad

Friday, May 23, 2008 4:15 PM

That's what a handful of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans asked John McCain and fellow GOP Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in two new ads VoteVets.org released this week to precede the Senate's consideration of the bipartisan 21st-century GI bill. The bill passed the Senate on Thursday as part of a larger war spending package that President Bush has threatened to veto.

The veterans in the ads claim that the bill, sponsored by Sens. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., offers them complete educational benefits, and they urge the senators to support it.

The ad targeting McCain and the one targeting Cornyn, who is facing a tough re-election challenge from Democrat Rick Noriega, are virtually identical, except the former contends that a substitute bill McCain has introduced would only provide partial benefits. "McCain thinks covering a fraction of our education is enough," one of the veterans says. "We didn't give a fraction in Iraq," says another. "We gave 100 percent."

Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and chairman of VoteVets.org, continues to have high hopes for the Webb-Hagel bill.

"We'll consider any and all means we can to ensure that the president signs the bill, and if he doesn't, make sure that Congress knows that overriding a veto means supporting our troops," Soltz said. "It's that simple."

John McCain, Television Ad

Thursday, May 22, 2008 1:30 PM

A new ad (subscription) launched nationwide today by MoveOn.org pressures John McCain to fire his chief campaign adviser, lobbyist Charlie Black. The ad comes on the heels of five McCain staff resignations in the past few weeks.

An announcer claims Black's firm has "made millions lobbying for the world's worst tyrants," including the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos and Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, and concludes by imploring viewers, "Call John McCain, and tell him to fire Charlie Black."

Continue reading McCain's Black Problem

John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 11:10 AM

John McCain's new ad, "Leading" (subscription), opens with a jab at the squabbles going on between Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, asserting that "John McCain leads" while the two Democrats "argue and fight with each other."

The ad, released in Iowa on May 16, goes on to describe the presumptive Republican nominee's various proposals on economic issues. An announcer says McCain will cut wasteful spending, ease financial woes at the pump with the gas tax holiday and create a "real" health care plan that includes $5,000 tax credits.

The announcer concludes by stating that McCain is all about "leadership, not politics."

Domestic Issues, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, May 12, 2008 1:30 PM

For weeks now, Oregon voters have been the target of campaign events and political advertisements from both Democratic candidates. In an effort to remind Oregonians that there's another candidate in the race, John McCain will today reach out to the Beaver State with his first TV spot there.

"A Better Way" (subscription) spotlights McCain's determination to alleviate global warming without expansive government programs. Framing climate change as "a national security issue," McCain urges a third way between those who think "high taxes and crippling regulation is the solution" and another side that "denies the problem even exists." Throughout, the ad features images of rising gas prices and natural disasters to underline the urgency of the issue and our "obligation to future generations to take action and fix it," as McCain says.

The McCain camp has so far made a concerted effort to amplify the message of his issue-oriented campaign tours with ads on health care and the economy. "A Better Way" comes as McCain embarks on a campaign swing intended to promote his commitment to the environment and, in the process, further separate himself from the policies of the Bush administration. The spot is an implicit reaction to ads from Democrats and third-party groups that have tried to chip away at McCain's image and portray him as little better than President Bush on the environment.

McCain's advisers have indicated that they hope to put Oregon into play in the general election. By investing in airtime now, he not only competes with ads currently airing from Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, he also attempts to build post-partisan credibility while explicitly assuaging the concerns of conservatives opposed to the "high taxes and crippling regulation" his ad warns against.

John McCain, Television Ad

Friday, May 9, 2008 1:40 PM

The winter holiday season brought with it a wave of questionable holiday-themed campaign spots (subscription), and now at least one candidate is doing the same for Mother's Day. John McCain's camp announced today it would run a new spot this Sunday featuring the candidate's mother, Roberta, reminiscing about his birth and upbringing.

Over an unusually cheery soundtrack for a political advertisement, Roberta trades playful banter with her son and says "he'll make a wonderful president." By spotlighting McCain's 96-year-old mother, the campaign hopes to appeal to female voters, who polls show currently favor Barack Obama, while also reminding viewers concerned about his age that his mother is still sharp as she nears her centennial. The buy will be limited to cable channels that cater primarily to female audiences, such as Lifetime, Oxygen and the Hallmark Channel.

In a larger sense, the ad is of a piece with the campaign's strategy of using earned media to blunt the Democrats' fundraising advantage. Assuming the cutesy spot gets picked up on the Internet and cable news channels, the campaign could greatly amplify the reach of what is really a limited buy on a handful of niche channels.

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

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.

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.

Economy, John McCain, Television Ad

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 12:45 PM

More outside help arrived for the Democratic presidential candidates today as another group -- this time the Democratic National Committee -- stepped in to challenge John McCain on the airwaves while Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton play out their slow-motion primary showdown. The new spot is the fourth in the past week and a half to target McCain, joining earlier buys from the Ohio Democratic Party and two advocacy groups.

The DNC's first ad (subscription) of the election, which begins airing today on national cable networks, uses footage of McCain from a Jan. 30 Republican debate to suggest he's out of touch with the economic anxieties of ordinary Americans. Contrasting McCain's comment that "Americans overall are better off" than they were eight years ago with grim statistics on inflation and gas prices, the ad concludes with an announcer asking viewers, "Do you feel better off?"

Days before the ad hit the airwaves, it was already under attack from Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan, who issued a statement on Sunday saying the spot "recklessly distorts John McCain's statements." But while the ad selectively edits McCain's answer, leaving out his acknowledgment that "things are tough right now," that hardly makes it atypical in the world of modern political advertising. As AP noted on Monday, "This type of selective quoting has become commonplace."

Economy, John McCain, Radio Ad

Monday, April 21, 2008 4:20 PM

Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton aren't the only ones facing negative advertising this week; tomorrow, the Ohio Democratic Party will greet John McCain with a new radio ad airing in the Youngstown area, where the Arizona senator will be arriving to continue his tour of the "forgotten places in America."

"More Of The Same," which ODP calls its first of the general election, challenges McCain on the very issue he'll be promoting in Ohio: the economy. "After months of ignoring Americans' worries about the economy, John McCain is trying to make up for his mistake by making lots of big promises," an announcer says, going on to accuse McCain of opposing overtime pay and promoting policies that would result in "more homes foreclosed on, more American jobs shipped overseas."

Besides attacking McCain on a sensitive topic, the ad chips away at his image as a political "maverick," calling attention to his "25 years in Washington" and tying him to the policies of the current president. "The more you learn, the more you see he's just more of the same," an announcer charges. That line echoes ongoing efforts at the national level by Democrats and outside groups to tie McCain to President Bush, particularly on economics.

Given the contours of the last two presidential elections and the fact that the Youngstown media market borders Pennsylvania, another likely swing state, it seems a safe bet that this buy is only the first of many that will bombard local listeners this general election season.

Domestic Issues, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 5:10 PM

The prolonged Democratic race has given John McCain relative freedom to lay the groundwork for his general election campaign while his opponents are busy bloodying one another. For his media team, that has meant pre-emptively defining his candidacy through a series of ads depicting McCain as a politically independent war hero.

But while the Democratic candidates are too distracted to knock back a rising McCain, several liberal advocacy organizations have begun stepping into the void.

Continue reading No Free Ride For McCain

Economy, John McCain, Television Ad

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 10:47 AM

Coinciding with John McCain's heavily promoted economic speech yesterday, his campaign released a new television ad in Ohio and Pennsylvania. "Ignite" (subscription) distills McCain's economic proposals into a series of vague but uplifting slogans: "Taxes: simpler, fairer. Energy: cleaner, cheaper. Health care: portable and affordable."

In addition to buttressing McCain's economic credentials, the ad's presentation seems designed to remind viewers of McCain's "maverick" image by using high-energy production and post-partisan rhetoric that sounds as if it could have come from a Barack Obama speech. "McCain will take the best ideas from both parties," the ad says, promising "initiatives that will unite us" and "big ideas for serious problems."

"Ignite" is McCain's first paid media since the bio ad (subscription) he ran in New Mexico last month, but his campaign has proven adept at finding other ways to place him on television, including a savvy use of Web ads and publicity events. His advisers may have decided that wasn't enough in Pennsylvania and Ohio, however, where dozens of Democratic political ads have saturated the airwaves, giving McCain's eventual general election opponent a head start at reaching voters in those key swing states.

John McCain, Web Ad

Monday, April 7, 2008 2:33 PM

Last week, John McCain released more ads than both of his well-funded Democratic rivals combined -- on the Internet, at least.

To complement his biographical campaign tour, which began last Monday, the Arizona senator released a new Web-only video almost daily in an effort to set the tone for that day's news coverage, frame his scheduled events and speeches and pick up earned media by getting free replay on cable news. More broadly, the tour and Web campaign are part a larger effort to define McCain's candidacy while his opponents remain stalemated for the Democratic nomination and third-party attack groups find themselves temporarily starved for cash.

Continue reading Who's Watching McCain's Bio Ads?

Economy, John McCain, Web Ad

Thursday, April 3, 2008 12:15 PM

Call it the Swift Boat reflex. As an indication of the speed at which presidential contenders now feel compelled to respond to attacks, consider that it took less than six hours for John McCain to release a Web ad rebutting Hillary Rodham Clinton's latest TV spot in Pennsylvania, which portrays him as an unfit steward of the national economy.

Using the same footage as Clinton's ad -- with a shot of a steely-eyed McCain tacked on to the end -- "Ready" opens with the now-familiar line, "It's 3 a.m., and your children are safe and asleep." It then goes on to blast both Clinton and Barack Obama for their economic proposals, saying "they'd solve the problem by raising your taxes. More money out of your pocket. John McCain has a better plan: Grow jobs. Grow our economy, not grow Washington."

Continue reading McCain Returns Clinton's Call

Defense, John McCain, Television Ad

Monday, March 31, 2008 11:43 AM

After two weeks spent visiting the Middle East and attempting to narrow the fundraising lead of his Democratic rivals, John McCain returns to the trail in earnest today with what his campaign is billing as a biographical tour showcasing his service to the country. And as part of its efforts to focus attention on McCain's résumé, his campaign also released the first general election ad of the campaign season, a biographical spot calling him "the American president Americans have been waiting for."

The new TV spot  (subscription), which debuted in New Mexico on Friday, features shots of the Arizona senator striking determined poses as a voice-over by actor Powers Boothe introduces him as a candidate who believes "that liberty is priceless" and has "walked the walk." Like previous McCain ads  (subscription), this one makes use of footage of a young McCain being questioned by his North Vietnamese captors to remind viewers of his time as a prisoner of war.

As the first media buy from the Republican nominee-to-be in nearly two months, the ad sheds light on McCain's strategy for the general election and, more specifically, how his camp plans to capitalize on the ongoing Democratic stalemate. Between the ad and his biography-focused campaign swing, McCain is setting out to define himself (as an experienced, patriotic war hero) before his opponent has the chance to. With McCain's political celebrity -- particularly in the Southwest -- there isn't really another reason for him to invest in a traditional bio spot.

Continue reading McCain's General Election Debut

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