Recently in Third-Party Ad Category
Friday, October 31, 2008 4:30 PM
Progressive Future, progressive advocacy group that is backing Barack Obama, is making a last-minute appeal to Reagan Democrats using none other than Ronald Reagan himself.
Their new TV spot, "Better Off" (subscription), uses footage of a famous moment in Reagan's 1980 presidential debate with Jimmy Carter to try to win over undecided voters. "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" Reagan asked in 1980. Plummeting stock prices and video footage of Osama bin Laden and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina play on screen as Reagan speaks about economic security and America's standing in the world. "If you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have," Reagan says as a photo of Obama fills the screen.
“With our economy in crisis and our soldiers still at war, Ronald Reagan’s question is as relevant today as it was in 1980,” said Progressive Future political director Brad Martin in a press release. The group cites data from Gallup that shows over 90 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. In addition to running the TV ad in Ohio and Florida, Progressive Future will spend the last 96 hours of the election on volunteer mobilization and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Friday, October 31, 2008 4:00 PM
The Service Employees International Union is putting nearly a half million dollars behind an ad -- running in Ohio only -- that criticizes John McCain for supporting policies that it says resulted in American jobs going overseas.
"Meghan" (subscription), started running in this pivotal battleground state Thursday. The spot features Meghan Cofield, a Dayton factor worker who saw her job move to China. The group chides McCain for supporting the North American Free Trade Act, which the SEIU asserts allows companies to receive tax benefits for exporting jobs overseas.
Thursday, October 30, 2008 6:33 PM
Quadrennial presidential candidate Ralph Nader hit the airwaves Tuesday with two new radio ads -- his first advertising buy of the election season -- to decry the financial bailout and offer himself as an alternative to the two major-party candidates.
"How much more political garbage will you take from the Republicans and Democrats?" the ad’s narrator asks. "On November 4, you have a choice: the bailout boys McCain and Obama, or Ralph Nader, the man who for more than 40 years has stood with you against Wall Street crime and Washington corruption."
The 30- and 60-second spots are running in 22 markets in 12 states -- including battlegrounds like Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. But Jason Kafoury, Nader’s national campaign coordinator, insisted that Nader is not trying to run as a spoiler.
The decision on where to run the ads was based on where the campaign has the strongest numbers. Kafoury pointed to a CNN/Time poll [PDF] released today that shows Nader with 3-4 percent support in Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"Independents that would vote for McCain are breaking towards third-party candidates," Kafoury said.
Nader, 74, has run in four consecutive presidential elections. In 1996 and 2000, he was the Green Party's nominee; in 2004 and this year, he has run as an independent.
After employing images of a "Chair" (subscription) and a "Storm" (subscription) to question Barack Obama's ability to lead in uncertain times, the Republican National Committee is once again using vivid symbolism to lambaste the Democrat, in a new ad released this morning.
"Surgeon" (subscription), the final installment of what RNC spokesman Brad Todd says is the party's "closing argument," begins with an announcer asking, in a grave tone: "Would you get on a plane with a pilot who has never flown? Would you trust your child with someone who has never cared for children? Would you go under with a surgeon who has never operated?" The ad then draws a parallel between these scenarios and the prospect of an Obama presidency, citing a quote from the Irish Sunday Independent: "Can you hand your nation to a man who has 'never been in charge of anything?' Can you wait while he learns?"
The original quote, published in mid-September, was actually targeted at Joe Biden: "Obama chose a charisma-free windbag who is the archetypal Washington insider and -- like Hillary [Rodham Clinton] and Obama himself -- has never been in charge of anything."
The RNC also released a Spanish version of "Storm" today in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., markets. This pivotal state, which was lining up solidly in the McCain column until mid-September, is now leaning toward Obama by at least a handful of percentage points in various national polls, according to Pollster.com.
The RNC is wrapping up its on-air efforts in Colorado, Pennsylvania and the once-solid red states of West Virginia, Montana and North Carolina as well. According to a press release, the party is in the process of spending more than $25 million in the last two weeks leading up to Nov. 4.
Thursday, October 30, 2008 11:15 AM
In the closing days of the presidential race, John McCain and the GOP are returning to a theme that was previously a centerpiece of their campaign against Barack Obama but faded during the past several months: that electing a president with as little foreign policy experience as Obama is dangerous during this uncertain time.
--Following McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his No. 2, the experience argument seemed to drop off a bit. But, a comment from Joe Biden at a recent fundraising event, where he told the audience that America's enemies would test a President Obama early within his first six months in office, could have been just the excuse Republicans needed to revive this message. -->
Our Country Deserves Better PAC is also seizing on the experience mantra in a humorous new ad (subscription) released on national cable and on broadcast TV in several targeted states, including Michigan, on Wednesday. Actors playing world leaders hostile to America, including Kim Jong Il of North Korea, Fidel Castro of Cuba and Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, are shown sitting around a conference table under a banner that reads: "The League Of Rogue Nations." The phone rings and is answered by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "Obama wants to meet," he tells his colleagues. "No preconditions!" Castro cheers.
Given the option of choosing the time and place, Ahmadinejad goes on to dismiss the person on the other end of the line. "Tuesday is no good. Thursday we enrich uranium. I mean, we have our bowling league," he says. Insisting that they are busy "all week," he tells the imaginary Obama representative: "We’ll get back to you." An announcer chimes in, concluding that Obama is "no match for America’s enemies."
"We wanted to cut through the clutter of so many political ads with something that was funny and different," said PAC coordinator Joe Wierzbicki, adding that the group is putting at least $150,000 behind the new spot. "We think this will be an effective means by which to remind people that Obama has almost zero foreign policy experience, and has already provoked controversy over remarks he has made in the realms of foreign policy and national defense."
Our Country Deserves Better PAC wrapped up a 15-day "Stop Obama" road trip in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, after hitting battleground states Nevada, Colorado, Michigan and Ohio, among others.
Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor who was featured in a September TV ad by the anti-abortion group BornAliveTruth.org, is speaking out in a new spot (subscription) against what she calls personal attacks by Barack Obama.
"Seen this ad? In it, Senator Obama personally attacks me," Jessen says of an Obama campaign spot that called her previous ad with the 527 group a "despicable lie." Jessen assures viewers that she's "dealt with worse. I’ve survived an abortion." She then reiterates the message from her first ad, that Obama has voted repeatedly against providing medical care for infants who survive abortions. She also recounts Obama's comment during a forum at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in August that determining when babies are endowed with human rights is "above his pay grade."
BornAliveTruth.org is spending about $90,000 to run the new spot in Cleveland between now and Election Day. The group has also gotten some help from Focus on the Family Action, James Dobson's Colorado-based organization that advocates for family issues, which has agreed to spend $500,000 airing a radio version of Jessen's first TV ad on Colorado stations.
"We want to make sure voters are aware of Barack Obama’s extreme stance on abortion," BornAliveTruth.org Executive Director Jill Stanek said in a press release.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008 4:30 PM
John McCain says he's a maverick, but the National Rifle Association would prefer a ranger. A Texas Ranger, to be precise.
The NRA began airing a 45-second TV spot (subscription) Tuesday featuring martial arts icon Chuck Norris, a familiar face in Republican politics this election cycle.
"If some thug breaks into my home, I can use my roundhouse kick, but I’d prefer he look down the barrel of my gun," Norris says in the ad, which is heavy on rattlesnake shakes and has a soundtrack befitting a high-noon duel.
Millions of Americans are bound for the ballot box in less than a week and many more have taken advantage of early voting, so it's no surprise that the community advocacy group ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is in the spotlight.
John McCain's campaign and other Republicans charge that the group has created phony forms to register ineligible people and even fictitious characters like Mickey Mouse. The camp has also called for federal investigations into Barack Obama's ties to the group, claiming that the Democrat has given more than $800,000 in the last year to an organization that is a subsidiary for ACORN.
In response, ACORN today released an ad, "Not This Time" (subscription), that claims these allegations are just the latest in a string of efforts over the years to keep people from voting. Accompanied by the image of a black man getting older from frame to frame, an announcer laments that "it happened to him in 1960. In 1965. And again in 2000. He was intimidated so he wouldn't vote."
While most, if not all, third-party ads in this election have focused on attacking candidates on some issue or another, this spot differs in that it's an attempt by the group to defend itself from claims made against it. This is illustrated most clearly in the ad's closing line: "ACORN. Voting is your right. Protecting it is our job."
The spot also capitalizes on a series of voter intimidation lawsuits, particularly one against New Mexico Republicans, that ACORN is advocating for. The lawsuits, as well as the ad, were announced this morning at a press conference in Washington that was followed up by a conference call with reporters. These events, coupled with the ad's limited release (initial buy of $50,000 in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and D.C.), suggest that this spot is aimed primarily at the media and not voters themselves.
Indeed, in ACORN's conference call, Executive Director Steve Kest said the spot is running in those markets "because we’re trying to reach opinion leaders and policy makers who we would like see call on the McCain campaign to stop these efforts." He added, however, that as the group raises more money, it will look to run the ad in "more contested states." He also downplayed questions about Obama's involvement with the group, saying ACORN has "no relationship with the campaign whatsoever."
Before ACORN's press conference, the Republican National Committee released a statement by chief counsel Sean Cairncross that brushed off the lawsuits as "yet another attempt by this questionable organization to waste valuable taxpayer money and cloud their own record of voter registration fraud." The statement further asserts that Obama's ties to the ACORN subsidiary should "be scrutinized closely and both organizations should be denounced widely for implementing such low-brow tactics, which compromise the integrity of our nation’s electoral process."
What do Paris Hilton and Britney Spears have in common with John McCain? According to a new ad (subscription) from a campaign finance advocacy group, it's their fondness for gambling. Campaign Money Watch takes it one step further, however, contending that the Republican nominee is not only "betting at casinos," he's also "gambling with their lobbyists."
The ad claims that gaming interests have contributed more than $1 million to McCain and the Arizona senator has become "gambling's go-to guy." The spot concludes by urging McCain to "walk away from special interests' money" and support the Fair Elections Now Act. The bill's Senate co-sponsors in 2007 included Barack Obama and Wisconsin Democrat Russell Feingold, who also co-sponsored McCain's own campaign finance reform legislation [PDF].
David Donnelly, executive director of Campaign Money Watch, said that Obama's withdrawal from the public finance system for the election only reiterates the notion that the current system is broken, and that new legislation, such as the Fair Elections Now Act, is a step toward fixing it. "We’re not going to hold a Republican or Democrat accountable for opting in or opting out of the system," he said. Instead, he said, the "barometer of where a candidate stands on public finance" should be whether they support this kind of reform.
Donnelly says the references to Spears and Hilton and the scrutiny of McCain's links to lobbyists are meant to be emblematic of the issues that have come up in the election. The group previously attacked McCain in June with an ad that questioned his involvement, by way of lobbyist connections, in an Air Force contract that went to Airbus, a French company, instead of the American company Boeing.
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.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008 12:00 PM
The impending sense of doom among Republicans with a week to go before Election Day has led some to criticize John McCain's campaign. One thing many conservatives would have liked to see from the Arizona senator was an earlier and more direct hit on Barack Obama for his connection with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Instead, third-party groups like Our Country Deserves Better PAC (subscription) and, now, the National Republican Trust PAC have taken up the issue themselves.
The National Republican Trust PAC, a group responsible for two controversial TV ads about Obama's immigration policies, is now putting $2.5 million behind "He Never Complained Once" (subscription), a spot that dredges up Obama's long-term relationship with Wright. It is currently airing in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
"For 20 years, Barack Obama followed a preacher of hate and said nothing as Wright raged against our country," the announcer charges as video clips of some of Wright's most inflammatory sermons play in the background. "I don't think my church is particularly controversial," reads a quote from Obama on screen. Portraying Obama as an opportunistic politician, the announcer charges that "for 20 years, Obama never complained -- until he ran for president."
The question is whether or not Wright can affect the race at this point, when voters are more focused on economic issues and, according to polls, seem more willing to trust Obama on that topic than McCain.
Monday, October 27, 2008 4:50 PM
A pro-Barack Obama Christian PAC, the Matthew 25 Network, is expanding its advertising into new battleground states, hoping to boost the Illinois senator among a group of voters who have traditionally gone Republican, but whom John McCain seems to be having trouble securing -- evangelicals. The PAC, which has already run ads in Ohio, is now running a pair of new radio spots in Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia.
"Source Of Hope" (subscription) features an audio clip from a 2007 Obama speech in which he discusses the origins of his faith. "Kneeling beneath that cross, I felt that I heard God’s spirit beckoning me," Obama says of his own spiritual experience. "I submitted myself to his will, and dedicated myself to discovering his truth." He goes on to discuss why he believes people should "embrace Christ" and how he came to see faith "as more than just a comfort to the weary, but rather as an active, palpable agent in the world -- as a source of hope."
"Welcome" (subscription), meanwhile, features Douglas Kmiec, former legal counsel to Ronald Reagan, explaining to listeners how they can reconcile supporting Obama with being pro-life. "There's more to building a culture of life than just hoping the next Supreme Court justice deals with Roe v. Wade," Kmiec says. He argues that Obama's "bottom-up, faith-based approach" to dealing with maternity leave, health care for children and adoption will decrease the number of abortions in the U.S. "John McCain says he’s pro-life, but he has voted against health care for poor children and support for pregnant women," Kmiec asserts, concluding: "Let’s elect a president who will protect life today: Barack Obama."
Matthew 25 is highlighting a survey from the Barna Group, a Christian polling firm, that shows Obama making huge inroads with Christian voters -- particularly born-agains and young evangelicals -- compared with John Kerry's performance against George Bush in 2004.
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.
Friday, October 24, 2008 4:30 PM
Barack Obama's decision to forgo public financing has left him with a huge money advantage over John McCain -- and the Republican Party as a whole. Let Freedom Ring, a conservative 501(c)(4) organization, is trying to make up some of the difference by pouring $5 million into a battleground state advertising blitz.
The group is running about 20 ads, primarily in five states -- Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia -- with some presence on national cable stations as well. The ads portray Obama as a radical liberal who would take the country in the wrong direction on everything from the economy to national security to judicial appointments.
One new spot (subscription) picks up on a gaffe from Obama's running mate, Joe Biden, who at a fundraiser last weekend predicted that a President Obama would face "an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy." A clip of Biden's warning is juxtaposed with a statement by former Defense Department official and conservative commentator Frank Gaffney, who says that when a candidate "convey[s] a determination neither to use military power, nor to ensure that they have it at their disposal should it be necessary, they are conveying to our enemies weakness, and weakness invites aggression" -- implying that Obama's support for diplomacy emboldens America's enemies.
Thursday, October 23, 2008 5:30 PM
All ad summary pages are available to subscribers only.
Idaho Senate (tip sheet)
• Democrat Larry LaRocco criticizes Republican Jim Risch for supporting privatization of Social Security in "Divert."
Louisiana Senate (tip sheet)
• The National Republican Senatorial Committee alleges that incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu received campaign donations from clients of disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff the "Same Day" she did them political favors.
• Gov. Bobby Jindal gives fellow Republican John Kennedy the "Governor's Endorsement."
Maine Senate (tip sheet)
• In "Too Close," Democratic Rep. Tom Allen reassures Maine voters that together they can change the direction of the country away from the policies of President Bush.
Mississippi Senate (tip sheet)
• GOP Incumbent Roger Wicker and his wife, Gayle, discuss the "Mississippi Values" they share with voters.
• The NRSC criticizes Democratic challenger Ronnie Musgrove for saying that a bad economy will help him win in "Help."
• Musgrove defends his record on abortion, guns and gay marriage in "Musgrove Sets The Record Straight."
• And in "Lots Of Times," the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee slams Wicker for voting to raise his own pay while voting against increases to the minimum wage and other programs.
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.
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."
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 4:20 PM
Vets for Freedom, a conservative-leaning organization of combat veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, has expanded the ad buy for its TV spot "Skipped" (subscription), putting it on the airwaves in Colorado and Ohio this week. The ad criticizes Barack Obama for holding no oversight hearings on Afghanistan and not spending more time in Iraq.
One of the targeted states -- Colorado -- is among the five that John McCain's campaign is reportedly pulling back from this week. The Politico reported today that the chances of a third-party, Swift-Boat-style attack on Obama are dimming. But there does seem to be a pattern developing of outside groups stepping into battleground states as McCain steps out.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 3:05 PM
Our Country Deserves Better PAC, a conservative third-party group that released one of the more controversial ads against Barack Obama this cycle, is focusing its fire on Michigan, a state that Pollster.com places safely in the blue column less than two weeks out from Election Day.
PAC coordinator Joe Wierzbicki explained that the John McCain camp's decision to pull resources from the Wolverine State made it that much more important for his group to pour its resources in. "We think the people of Michigan will appreciate that their votes and their issues are going to be discussed and debated and fought for," he said, noting that the Obama campaign has also drawn down some of its resources in the state.
Wierzbicki said he was pleased with the results of the group's campaign in Nevada, where he credits its advertising and "Stop Obama" rallies with tightening the race (though Pollster.com shows Obama moving slightly ahead of McCain in October). The group is spending $500,000 in Michigan to run its previous ad featuring Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, as well as several new ones.
In "Obama's Patriotism Problem" (subscription), Our Country Deserves Better Chairman Howard Kaloogian speaks to viewers, using several anecdotes to call the Illinois senator's love of country into question. Evoking Ronald Reagan's vision of America as a "shining city on a hill," Kaloogian charges: "When it comes to this presidential campaign, it's clear that Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan." The spot criticizes Wright's sermons, Obama's refusal to wear an American flag pin, and his campaign's decision to replace the American flag on its airplane with a campaign logo. "If America is not good enough for Barack Obama," Kaloogian says, "then surely Barack Obama is not good enough for America."
Two other ads link Obama to Michigan Democrats, Gov. Jennifer Granholm and "disgraced" former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. "Obama/Granholm: Wrong For Michigan" assails Granholm, whose approval rating is in the 20s, and says that an Obama presidency would mean more of the "same tax-raising, big-government-spending, liberal policies." Meanwhile, this spot reminds viewers of Obama's "political alliance" with Kilpatrick, who resigned in September as part of a plea bargain as he faced perjury and other criminal charges.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008 11:00 AM
Get ready, Tina Fey.
The Defenders of Wildlife -- the group that made Sarah Palin's support of aerial shooting of wolves infamous -- is working on a follow-up. This time the target is Palin's lawsuit against the labeling of polar bears as an endangered species. Defenders has begun running a television ad in Indiana financed by the group's nonprofit 527 arm while it also looks to raise money online to finance a separate political ad. The 30-second issue ad asks Indiana viewers to call on Palin to withdraw her lawsuit.
It is being run in Indiana "to keep us out of trouble" since it is a swing state where Defenders did not run the political ad targeting her support of wolf shooting, said the group's president and CEO Rodger Schlickeisen. That 60-second ad featured footage of a hunter leaning out the window of helicopter with rifle in hand, shooting and mortally wounding a wolf. Schlickeisen admitted the polar bear ad may not have the same visual impact, but he still hopes to replicate the wolf ad's modest initial $35,000 investment that turned into nearly $1 million in donations. That money went to expanding the group's media buy, allowing the wolf ad to run in several swing states, including Virginia, Colorado, Florida and Ohio.
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.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008 3:20 PM
The Republican Jewish Coalition is voicing a favorite GOP criticism of Barack Obama in a new TV ad: that his inexperience makes him a dangerous choice for commander in chief. "Concerned About Obama?" (subscription) uses footage from a Democratic primary debate and criticism of Obama from Hillary Rodham Clinton to call his foreign policy credentials into question and suggest to voters that the country will be less safe with a President Obama than it would be with a President John McCain.
The ad opens with audio of a July 2007 debate in which Democratic candidates were asked whether or not they would "be willing to meet separately with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea." "I would," replies Obama. Clinton disagrees, saying "I don't want to be used for propaganda purposes." The spot also features audio of a Quad-City Times interview with Clinton several days later, in which she charges that Obama's position is "irresponsible and frankly naïve." "Hillary is right," an announcer maintains. "The stakes are too high," he says as photos of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chavez and other anti-American leaders flash on screen.
The issue of national security is likely to play well with the segment of Jewish voters who place the safety of Israel among their highest priorities. And there has been evidence that Obama is having more trouble than most Democrats in winning over this typically reliable left-leaning bloc. But one recent New York University poll showed Jewish voters as a whole backing Obama by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 (the poll was actually conducted in September, before the economic situation deteriorated and large numbers of voters nationwide began moving toward Obama).
The RJC is spending over $1 million to run the ad in Florida, Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Of these states, Florida is perhaps the one battleground where Jewish voters could prove a decisive demographic, as they make up about 6 to 8 percent of the voting population. Both presidential campaigns have spent a great deal of time and effort trying to win over Jewish voters, particularly in South Florida, where Obama is making a final pitch as early voting begins this week.
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.--Look at places like Colorado, Nevada a lot of the demographics are changing there. While the Illinois senator doesn't have quite as large of a lead here, he is still besting McCain pretty solidly, according to the latest polling. -->
Monday, October 20, 2008 3:11 PM
It certainly isn't your typical talking head. But, it is still a talking head -- of a moose, that is -- who has some disparaging things to say about Sarah Palin in an ad unveiled today by MoveOn.org.
"Trigger Happy" (subscription) lampoons Palin's well-known love for hunting, featuring an animated moose's head, mounted on a wall, scoffing, "You really gotta question John McCain's judgment picking Sarah Palin as his VP." Charging that the Alaska governor "doesn't have any national security experience," the moose says, "She can't even explain [President] Bush's war policies, but she supports his war" -- a reference to her interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson, in which she was asked about the Bush Doctrine. The moose is also not impressed with another Palin talking point: "And now she's an expert because she can see Russia?"
Friday, October 17, 2008 12:10 PM
It's less than three weeks before Election Day and the economy continues to dominate headlines, propelling Barack Obama's gain over John McCain in the polls. What's a conservative group to do? One PAC is turning to perhaps the only topic that could tear both voters and the media away from the financial crisis: the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
The National Republican Trust PAC started running an ad, "License" (subscription), in Ohio on Thursday that uses images of a burning World Trade Center and hijacking mastermind Mohammad Atta. The spot notes that many of the 9/11 hijackers were able to obtain driver's licenses and claims that Obama's support for allowing states to issue licenses to illegal immigrants would endanger the nation's security.
"Nineteen terrorists infiltrate the U.S." the ad's announcer says. "Thirteen get drivers licenses. The 9/11 plot depended on easy-to-get licenses." Images of Obama and of the smoke- and fire-filled towers follow one of Atta's face on a Florida driver's license while the announcer asserts, falsely, that "Obama's plan gives a license to any illegal who wants one." The ad goes on to tie its central claim about national security to hot-button issues such as the housing crisis and voter fraud, warning that illegal immigrants with licenses could "get government benefits, a mortgage, board a plane, even illegally vote."
The issue of whether or not to grant licenses to illegal immigrants -- and, for that matter, the subject of immigration in general -- has hardly come up during the general election. It played a far larger role during the primaries, when Republican candidates accused each other of favoring "amnesty" and Democrats sparred over the licensing issue.
While the amount of the ad buy has not officially been confirmed, the Politico dug up FEC fillings that show the group has spent $200,000 opposing Obama. How much of that is tied up in this ad is unclear. The group also sent out e-mails making the same claims as the ad does, while also alerting supporters of the plans to release the spot. It's reportedly running in Ohio, with potential plans to run it in more states.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 5:00 PM
For some candidates and special interest groups, the $700 billion bailout package is the gift that keeps on giving.
Congress passed the legislation two weeks ago, but the bailout continues to be a hot topic in campaign advertisements, both for special interest groups hoping to influence the presidential race and for downballot candidates. The bailout debate was unpredictable: Votes did not split neatly along party lines, and accusations continue to fly over who's to blame for the subprime disaster. It is perhaps fitting, then, that the recent slew of bailout-related ads range from the conventional -- an attack on Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd's "sweetheart mortgage" -- to the more creative -- a giant banker appearing to urinate on tiny voters.
Former Rep. Jim Slattery has rolled out two spirited ads in his uphill effort to unseat Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas. Roberts voted against the bailout bill, but that hasn't stopped Slattery from trying to link the mortgage crisis to his opponent. Last week, the Democrat released the TV spot "Hosed," which features a giant "rich executive" standing over angry, Lilliputian protesters.
"While they're getting bailouts or gushing record profits, the rest of us are just getting hosed," the narrator says. All of a sudden, a stream of yellow liquid begins pouring down on the tiny people as the giant executive laughs. More fluid rains down before a wider shot reveals that the executive is pouring gasoline on the crowd, and not, well, anything else.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008 11:15 AM
Our Country Deserves Better, a PAC chaired by California Republican Howard Kaloogian, is running a new TV ad against Barack Obama that revives several of the fiercest character attacks made against the Illinois senator since the beginning of the campaign season.
"Obama's Wrong Values" (subscription) opens with footage of a few of the Democratic Party's primary candidates lined up on a stage, apparently during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance; Obama is the only one not holding his hand over his heart. "Barack Obama seems to have different values from most Americans," an announcer says. He goes on to charge that Obama campaign offices have flags of "murderous leftist Che Guevara" hung on the walls and that a top official from "the terrorist group Hamas endorsed" Obama. And finally, the ad shows the now-infamous footage of Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, spouting: "... Goddamn America."
Tuesday, October 14, 2008 4:20 PM
The American Federation of Government Employees hit the airwaves with a one-minute radio advertisement Friday, asking blue-collar voters to ignore race and gender in the presidential election and focus on the issues.
The idea for "Courage to Change" (subscription) came from an August meeting of union leaders in Chicago, explained AFGE National President John Gage, who stars in the ad.
"All of us reported getting stinging e-mails and hearing the code words of racism from some members" after the AFL-CIO endorsed Barack Obama earlier in the year, Gage said. (The AFGE is a member union of the AFL-CIO.) "There was a frank discussion of race at the meeting, and we decided to go after it head-on."
The union has already shelled out $500,000 to run the ad in Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virgina and West Virginia -- with "more to come." While a union representative said the ad's focus on racism and sexism means it could apply to both campaigns, there's little doubt from its opening lines that the radio spot is most concerned with the former.
"I’m old enough to appreciate the union movement’s contributions to civil rights -- and I’m white enough to pick up on the code words of prejudice," Gage says, later adding, "There are 100 good reasons for how you vote this year and only one bad reason."
The ad isn't designed to convince voters to give up racism, Gage told NationalJournal.com, but to make the economic costs of that bias clear.
"Prejudice is not free," he added.
Gage isn't the only one making waves on the race issue this election season. Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, blasted racism during a steelworkers convention in July in a speech that has since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times online.
The AFGE also plans to release an advertisement with television personality Judge Joe Brown closer to Election Day that will encourage listeners to resist voter suppression efforts at the polls, Gage said.
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."
Thursday, October 9, 2008 3:30 PM
Ohio is the place to be this week. Barack Obama, John McCain and Sarah Palin have all been making the political rounds there the past few days. The Sierra Club, capitalizing on all the attention this battleground state is receiving, released a radio ad there Wednesday that contrasts the candidates' stances on clean energy.
In "American Jobs" (subscription) an announcer chides McCain for failure to support the clean energy industry and for voting "to make it easier for companies to outsource jobs." The announcer then claims that Obama is committed to clean energy and will create "5 million new jobs" in that sector.
Energy has been put on the back-burner the past few weeks due to the financial crisis. Through this spot, though, the Sierra Club aims to link energy directly to the issue that, according to organization spokesman Josh Dorner, is most crucial to residents in this industrial state -- jobs.
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.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008 3:30 PM
The National Rifle Association is intensifying it's anti-Barack Obama media campaign, launching an additional TV spot -- including a Spanish-language version -- in several news battleground states. But the Illinois senator is defending his position on gun control and using other strategies to try to reach out to a segment of the population targeted by the NRA: rural voters.
The NRA has already spent several million dollars running ads in Colorada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania, but the group is now moving into media markets in Florida, Ohio and Virginia with a new spot, "Texas Law Enforcement Officer" (subscription). The ad features Andy Vaquera, a retired police officer from Texas, who says that in his line of work he has "seen firsthand the tragedy that happens when people are stripped of their gun rights." Footage of crime scenes and red and blue flashing lights play on screen as Vaquera evokes what is a sensitive issue in many states: illegal immigration. "Families should be able to defend themselves against rapists, drug dealers and other criminals illegally crossing our borders," he insists, claiming that Obama would prevent Americans from being able to use guns in self-defense.
Obama is firing back with his own ad (subscription) featuring a lifetime NRA member, Greg West, expressing his support for the Democratic nominee. "I hunt, I fish, I love the outdoors," West says, adding his love for America to that list and proclaiming, "I support Barack Obama." An announcer ensures veiwers that Obama "supports gun rights, our right to defend ourselves, the Second Amendment," before pivoting to a brief attack on John McCain's tax policy. West appears on screen at the end, calling Obama "our best hope for true change in Washington."
The Obama campaign says they plan to run the ad wherever the NRA puts its spots on air.
The Illinois senator is also getting some help courting rural voters in Southern Virginia from an unlikely source: bluegrass music legend Ralph Stanley. Stanley is featured in a radio ad (subscription), greeting listeners with a friendly "howdy" before launching into his pitch for Obama. "I think I know a little something about the families around here. And after the last eight years, I know we all need a change," the musician twangs, banjo music playing in the background. Stanley praises Obama's economic and education policies before testifying for the candidate's character: "Barack is a good man. A father and devoted husband, he values personal responsibility and family first." He concludes by asking viewers to join him on Election Day "in supporting a true friend of the people who live right here in Southwest Virginia."
Monday, October 6, 2008 6:00 PM
The unpopular but necessary bailout package has been passed, and it will now recede into the background for the rest of the campaign season, right?
Not a chance.
The presidential candidates may be turning to new lines of attack, but the bailout bill is still red meat for plenty of congressional challengers, who are are spinning the $700 billion legislation in TV spots across the country.
John Gard, the GOP challenger in Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District, has been running an ad decrying the bailout plan since Sept. 26, several days before the House voted initially to reject the legislation. In the spot, Gard attacks his opponent, Rep. Steve Kagen, for supporting tax increases and then criticizes the bailout, saying that "Washington's got it wrong again" and implying that Kagen is part of that equation. Even though Kagen twice voted against the financial rescue bill, Gard campaign strategist Mark Graul credits his candidate with coming out against the proposal early on.
Other candidates and committees are sticking by the sports maxim that the best defense is a good offense. In Oregon, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is doing its best to spread the blame for the politically volatile legislation. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., voted for the bailout, while his Democratic opponent Jeff Merkley publicly opposed it; but on Thursday the NRSC began running "Bad Bet" (subscription), which tries to link Merkley to the bailout he opposed. The TV spot alleges that Merkley presided over deficit spending as speaker of the state House of Representatives. The ad continues by saying that, "just like Washington, Merkley borrows the money and mortgages our future."
"Jeff Merkley can come out against the bailout package all he wants, but it won’t change his record," said Mary-Sarah Kinner, NRSC deputy press secretary, in an e-mail. "We believe it’s important to warn voters against sending Merkley’s reckless economic record to Washington to fix the problems we currently have -- he will only make things worse."
For his part, Merkley fired back today with an ad linking Smith to the bailout and the Bush tax cuts.
Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia's 8th district, is another incumbent with the bailout albatross around his neck. The Georgia Democrat, however, hopes to parlay his unpopular vote into an example of his ability to make tough choices in the face of criticism. In a new ad, "Economic Rescue" (subscription), he explains to his constituents why he voted in support of the bill.
"I approve this message because you elected me to do what's best for America," Marshall explains from his perch on the edge of a desk. "Not what's easy."
Doug Moore, a Marshall campaign spokesman, said the ad was designed to be "straight" with constituents who are unhappy with the congressman's support of the bill.
“He’s not 40 years old, and this is not what he wants to do with the rest of his life," Moore said. "I know it sounds trite, but even though it might cost him personally, he’s going to do the right thing.”
Monday, October 6, 2008 5:31 PM
As John McCain's campaign seeks to shift the presidential race away from pocketbook issues, Barack Obama is keeping the focus on the kitchen table. The Illinois senator's camp is striking on health care, hitting the topic repeatedly on the campaign trail and charging in several new TV spots that McCain's plan would cost working families more and amount to the largest tax increase ever for many of them.
Obama began the onslaught last week with "Prescription" (subscription), which portrays McCain's explanation of his plan as a half-truth. "John McCain talks about a $5,000 tax credit for health care," but "he's not telling you" the whole story, the announcer says. The Arizona senator's plan calls for employees to "pay income tax on your health insurance benefits, taxing health benefits for the first time ever." What's worse, the ad says, the revenue from those taxes "goes straight to the insurance companies." The announcer concludes that McCain's plan resorts to "taxing health care instead of fixing it." (PolitiFact, a joint project of the St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly, scores the ad as "barely true" for its claim that McCain's plan would leave people on their own, noting that "there's ample evidence to show that the plan would be a wash for most workers.")
"One Word" (subscription) conveys a nearly identical message, labeling the McCain health care plan "a multitrillion-dollar tax hike, the largest middle-class tax increase in history." The announcer goes on to warn viewers that a McCain administration "could cost your family thousands" in additional health care costs.
Meanwhile, in "Coin" (subscription), Obama claims that while he would increase coverage for routine treatments, McCain would "deregulate the insurance giants, letting them bypass patient protections in your state." Furthermore, whereas Obama would require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions, "McCain would let them continue to do as they please." Playing on the image of a flipped coin, the announcer asks, "Isn't your health care too important to be left to chance?"
Obama is also getting an assist from the Service Employees International Union, a labor group that has endorsed him and run several ads promoting his candidacy.
"Worried Sick" (subscription) features two women walking through the grocery store, discussing the difficulties one of them is facing after her husband has undergone surgery. "I don’t know how we’re going to pay all the bills," she frets, adding: "We’ve got insurance, but it doesn’t seem to cover much." If voters are "worried sick about health care costs" now, an announcer interjects, "John McCain's plan won’t help."
SEIU is running the ad in battleground states Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Democratic and Republican Jewish advocacy groups are flooding Jewish newspapers around the country with dueling ads on Barack Obama's support for Israel.
The National Jewish Democratic Council began running a full-page ad [PDF] Friday that touts Obama’s support for the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007 and his co-sponsorship of the Palestinian Anti-Terror Act. The ad is mostly blue and white (the colors of the Israeli flag) and runs under the headline "A New Year, A New Direction" -- an allusion to Rosh Hashanah.
The group released another print ad [PDF] today highlighting Obama's support for abortion rights. Both ads are running in Jewish newspapers "around the country," said Ira Forman, executive director of the Council, though he declined to say which ones.
The Republican Jewish Coalition has also been pumping money into print advertising in recent weeks, unveiling five new ads in the last month. While its Democratic counterpart has primarily stuck to positive messages about Obama or contrasted the two presidential candidates, the Republican group is leading a full-fledged assault on the Illinois senator's Israel credentials.
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.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008 5:20 PM
An environmental advocacy group is purchasing more airtime for a graphic TV spot that attacks Gov. Sarah Palin for her support of aerial wolf hunting in Alaska.
Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund began airing the minute-long ad "Brutal" in Ohio and Florida on Sept. 12, later expanding it into Michigan. The spot seems to have hit a nerve with animal rights activists, who have donated more than $1 million to the group since it started airing. Flush with cash, the D.C.-based action fund will soon begin running the ad in Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia and Missouri, the site of Thursday’s vice presidential debate.
The ad also resonated with a focus group conducted two weeks ago by HCD Research and the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion. The ad “seemed to strike a chord with voters,” said Glenn Kessler, president and CEO of HCD Research, in a Sept. 15 press release. “The recent ads from both parties have had little impact,” Kessler said. “This is the first ad in over a month that seems to have broken through.”
Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund could not be reached for comment.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008 4:47 PM
Vets For Freedom, an organization of combat veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is targeting Barack Obama in a new TV ad for what the group says is his failure to lead on the two conflicts.
Opening with an image of a smiling Obama lounging in a chair behind his desk, "Skipped" (subscription) notes Obama's high absentee rate in the Senate – he missed 45 percent of votes -- but says that "he did manage to show up to vote against emergency funding for our troops." The announcer goes on to criticize the Illinois senator for not holding any hearings as the chairman of the Senate oversight committee on Afghanistan. And he points out that Obama has traveled to Iraq only twice, while during the course of the presidential race he visited Iowa 45 times.
Brian Bowers, an Iraq war veteran, appears on screen at the end urging viewers to call Obama and ask him to support Senate Resolution 636. The bill, sponsored by two of John McCain's closest surrogates, Sens. Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., calls for the recognition of the success of the troop surge in Iraq.
The accusation against Obama regarding troop funding came up in the first presidential debate, where Obama defended his vote as a reflection on his position seeking a timetable for withdrawal. "Senator McCain opposed funding for troops in legislation that had a timetable, because he didn't believe in a timetable," Obama pointed out. "I opposed funding a mission that had no timetable, and was open-ended, giving a blank check to George Bush. We had a difference on the timetable. We didn't have a difference on whether or not we were going to be funding troops." Factcheck.org, meanwhile, reported in response to a McCain campaign ad released in July that while Obama did cast one "no" vote on legislation providing money for combat efforts, he voted at least 10 times in favor of increased funding.
As for the committee Obama chairs, it does not, in fact, have direct oversight of the war in Afghanistan. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on European Affairs does have jurisdiction over NATO affairs, and NATO has played a large role in the conflict. But hearings on Afghanistan have been held in front of the full Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Obama's running mate, Joe Biden. ABC News reported in July that Obama has attended one of the three full committee hearings on Afghanistan held within the last two years, while McCain has missed all three.
"This is a despicable distortion of Senator Obama's record," spokesman Nick Shapiro said. "Senator Obama has been a forceful advocate for our service members, passing legislation that ensured our wounded warriors receive the care and treatment they deserve, fighting to end disparities in veterans health care benefits, and proposing a plan to revitalize our military to meet the threats and challenges of the 21st century."
Wednesday, October 1, 2008 3:59 PM
So far John McCain has not played the Jeremiah Wright card in his contest with Barack Obama. The Judicial Confirmation Network did it for him today, however, with a new TV spot that questions Obama's judgment in choosing associates and what that might mean for the Supreme Court should he be elected.
JCN, which lobbied for the appointments of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, favors a more conservative judiciary. The new ad is part of a $1 million advertising and grassroots effort to "raise awareness and recruit activists on the critical issue of the U.S. Supreme Court," according to the group's Web site. The ads will run in markets in Ohio and Michigan, as well as on national cable spanning the vice presidential debate on Thursday night and the start of the new Supreme Court session next Monday.
"Chose" (subscription) opens with JCN counsel Wendy Long explaining that the next president could choose as many as four new justices for the Court. She then presses the "play" button for an ad within the ad, in which an announcer begins: "We don't know who Barack Obama would choose, but we know" who some of his associates have been in the past. The ad goes on to link Obama to Chicago businessman Tony Rezko, now a convicted felon; William Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground, an anti-war group that bombed the Pentagon and the Capitol during the Vietnam era; and, of course, Obama's former pastor, the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright. "Obama chose to associate with these men while voting against" Roberts and Alito, the announcer concludes.
"A President Obama or a President McCain will be likely be handed an opportunity to affect the make-up of the Supreme Court that is unprecedented in our history," Long said in a press release. "JCN is educating Americans about the differences between an 'Obama Court' that would engage in judicial activism, acting as a super-legislature and imposing a political agenda from the bench, and a 'McCain Court' that would likely practice judicial restraint and fairly apply the law based on what the Constitution says and on laws passed by the representatives accountable to the American people," she added.
The Obama camp fought back hard in August against a TV ad run by another third-party group in which Ayers was prominently featured. And the Illinois senator has emphatically cut ties with Rezko and Wright.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008 1:30 PM
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.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 4:00 PM
The fiscal meltdown is yet again the focal point of dueling Democratic and Republican TV ads today. Barack Obama released another two-minute mini-speech on the state of the nation's economy and how he would depart from the approach taken by President Bush for the last eight years. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee's independent expenditure arm is out with a spot lambasting Obama's economic policies, which it says would take the country deeper into economic turmoil.
The RNC's new ad is turning heads for not only criticizing Obama's economic agenda, but seemingly contradicting John McCain's message on the federal bailout. While McCain is still attempting to play dealmaker on Capitol Hill and encouraging Congress to pass the legislation, "Worse" (subscription) attacks the deal in the harshest terms. "Wall Street squanders our money and Washington is forced to bail them out with -- you guessed it -- our money," the announcer jeers. According to Ben Smith, the ad was sent out to TV stations early Monday morning, before the bill tanked.
The ad is slated to run in battleground states Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia. Brad Todd, a partner at OnMessage Inc. who produced the spot, said it was a response to a moment in Friday's presidential debate when Obama (as well as McCain) failed to identify a part of his agenda that he would have to put off because of the budget constraints that the next president is sure to face. "The fact that Senator Obama would still spend nearly a trillion dollars even after Congress addresses the financial crisis is something the American public needs to know," Todd maintained.
In Obama's ad (subscription), the Illinois senator speaks straight into the camera, repeating several now-familiar lines about the failure of the Bush administration's trickle-down economic theory. "We know the truth. It didn't work," he says. Acknowledging that "our economy's in turmoil," Obama still attempts to inject a sense of optimism: "I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis." Obama then offers several distinctions between his and McCain's tax plans, emphasizing that he does not intend to raise taxes on the majority of Americans.
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.
Thursday, September 25, 2008 4:00 PM
The ONE Campaign against global poverty hit the airwaves today with a TV spot (subscription) calling for John McCain and Barack Obama to address worldwide hunger and disease at the presidential debates.
The nonprofit humanitarian group, which was co-founded by U2 front man Bono, has spent a little over $700,000 to air the ad on national cable to correspond with Friday’s debate. The only problem? McCain's announcement that he's "suspending" his presidential campaign this week because of the economic crisis has thrown the future of that debate into jeopardy.
But ONE insists its message has no expiration date, even if the original intention was to tie their message to an event that attracts tens of millions of viewers. "When the debate does go forward, if it occurs tomorrow or it occurs at the some other time, the issue will still be relevant," said ONE spokeswoman Kimberly Cadena.
Even if the Friday debate goes off as planned, cutting through the media buzz about the ongoing economic crisis may be difficult. In speeches at the Clinton Global Initiative conference this morning, both McCain and Obama focused their remarks on the Wall Street meltdown, and media reports after the fact largely ignored their comments on combating malaria and reducing global poverty.
But, echoing Obama's recent comments that presidents must be able to multitask, Cadena said voters can pay attention to more than one issue at a time. "Voters have been dealing with several different challenges both at home and abroad during this election season," she said. "And they've maintained a level of interest in these problems throughout."
This is not ONE's first foray into presidential politics: The group paid $1.8 million in December to air a similar ad in Iowa and New Hampshire during the primaries, and also ran a second spot featuring actor Matt Damon days before the Democratic convention last month.
Thursday, September 25, 2008 3:54 PM
It's open season for the National Rifle Association, which has a spate of new TV, radio and print ads targeting Barack Obama's and Joe Biden's positions on gun rights. In addition to releasing four TV spots in Colorado, New Mexico and Pennsylvania this week, the firearm advocates are also circulating mailers that detail Obama's "10-Point Plan to 'Change' the Second Amendment."
NRA members featured in the ads claim that the Democratic candidates intend to take away people's guns if elected, and they use Obama's "bitter" comments and other tidbits to assert that the Illinois senator doesn't get America's gun owners. Fact-checkers have some serious issues with the spots, however, with FactCheck.org concluding that "the NRA has cherry-picked, twisted and misrepresented Obama's record."
"Where is this guy from?" Virginia resident Karl Rusch demands in "Hunter" (subscription). "He’s probably never been hunting a day in his life." Rusch makes an economic appeal to viewers, contending that with prices already high on fuel and "just about everything else," Obama supports a "huge new tax on... guns and ammo." Detailing other restrictions Obama has reportedly sought on gun ownership, Rusch jeers: "You don’t have to be bitter to know Barack Obama isn’t the kind of change we need."
Rusch's son Kurt is featured in another spot, "Veteran" (subscription). Battle scenes play on screen while Kurt discusses his service in Iraq. "Sure, combat was hell. But on the front lines I knew I served a real purpose: defeating terrorism, protecting our way of life," he says. But now, he asserts, Obama is trying to take away his right to own a handgun for protection. "There’s no way I’m voting for a president who will take that away -- the freedoms that I fought for, that my friends died to defend," Kurt angrily insists.
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."
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?"
Monday, September 22, 2008 3:30 PM
The race between Barack Obama and John McCain is neck-and-neck in the bellwether state of Ohio, according to the latest polls. But Obama is getting a boost in the state among a traditional Republican voting bloc -- evangelical Christians -- from the Matthew 25 Network, a group that claims to be the first Christian PAC of its kind.
Today, Matthew 25 is launching the first of a planned series of ads supporting Obama on Christian radio stations throughout the Buckeye State. The new spot (subscription) features former Rep. Tony Hall of Dayton, a self-described pro-life Democrat discussing how his Christian faith is leading him to vote for Obama.
Hall describes the hardships plaguing many Ohio families and claims that "we need a president who sees those who are hurting and cares for the least of these." He highlights the fact that "as a child, Barack knew hard times, too," and he stresses Obama's own faith: "As a Christian, Barack believes that God calls us to care for those who are in need. He has spent his life doing just that."
Hall told reporters today that what most impressed him about Obama was his decision to forgo a high-paying job when he graduated from college and move to Chicago to help neighborhoods struggling from plant closings. "I think he’ll be tremendous for the poor people in this country," Hall said.
Mara Vanderslice, the group's executive director, emphasized the timeliness of this ad, as it asks Christian voters to consider the larger implications of the recent economic crisis. Bart Campolo, a minister involved with Matthew 25, said that, as the government undertakes the biggest restructuring of the economic sector in nearly a decade, the American people should make sure that we have someone in the White House "who will restructure the country in a way that works for everyone," not just Wall Street.
Friday, September 19, 2008 3:00 PM
Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection began flooding the cable news networks Thursday with a TV spot (subscription) that attacks the oil industry for lobbying against renewable energy legislation.
“Why are we still stuck on dirty and expensive energy?” the narrator asks as the camera pans over an offshore oil rig followed by a suitcase full of cash. “Because Big Oil spends hundreds of millions of dollars to block clean energy.”
Donations to keep the ad running started pouring in even before the spot aired: Within six hours of e-mailing the video to its members, the group said, they raised $150,000 in contributions.
While "Big Oil" remains a favorite villain of political advertising, the spot comes at a time when momentum is growing for increased domestic drilling: The House voted this week to allow oil exploration offshore, a conservative group recently hit the airwaves with pro-drilling spot and the battle cry "drill, baby, drill" is now part of the country's political lexicon.
But there are also encouraging signs for advocates of renewable energy, including broad public support for wind and solar and measures in the House drilling bill that would incentivize alternative energy and roll back subsidies for oil companies. The Alliance isn't alone blaming K Street for holding back a shift away from fossil fuels.
“The technology is there," said Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University. "The problem is lobbyists for other technologies -- nuclear, coal, biofuels -- that don’t do what they claim.”
And, he warned, don't expect John McCain or Barack Obama to change the status quo.
"You look at the presidential candidates, one is pushing biofuels, which are a joke," Jacobson said of Obama. "And the other is pushing nuclear power, which is a danger to American national security.”
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 6:00 PM
A new pro-life 527 group, BornAliveTruth.org, has hit the airwaves with a TV spot (subscription) attacking Barack Obama for his votes against the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act in the Illinois state Senate.
The spot -- running in New Mexico and Ohio with $350,000 behind it and the possibility of an expanded campaign later on -- features Gianna Jessen, a 31-year old woman who survived a botched abortion attempt. “Can you imagine not giving babies their basic human rights, no matter how they entered our world?” she asks. "If Barack Obama had his way, I wouldn’t be here.”
Jessen is referring to a series of votes Obama made in the Illinois Senate against a bill that would have required doctors to provide medical care to fetuses that survive late-term abortions.
An Obama campaign spokesman declined to comment on the ad, but in the past, Obama and pro-choice advocates have argued that the bill would have undermined Roe v. Wade. They have also pointed out that physicians were already required under state law to preserve the life and health of any fetus surviving an abortion.
Jessen, a vocalist and motivational speaker, is a familiar face in pro-life circles, thanks in part to a controversial appearance (subscription) at the Colorado state legislature on the day the House was considering honoring Planned Parenthood.
Nor is this the first foray into politics for BornAliveTruth.org's executive director, Jill Stanek. A registered nurse, Stanek campaigned against Obama during his 2004 Senate run on this same issue and maintains an influential anti-abortion blog. Hardly one to mince words (she once labeled Michael J. Fox a "cannibal" for his support of stem cell research), Stanek said in an interview that Obama "endorses fourth-trimester abortions -- infanticide.”
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.
Monday, September 15, 2008 6:05 PM
Barack Obama is continuing his on-air offensive, launching another negative ad about John McCain's lobbyist ties over the weekend and using scathing editorials today to suggest that McCain isn't fighting fair. The Illinois senator is also getting some help from a labor union that endorsed him in the primaries: The Service Employees International Union announced that it will spend $2 million running an anti-McCain spot in several battleground states.
In "His Administration" (subscription), Obama builds on a TV spot released last week about the former lobbyists on McCain's campaign team, alleging that the same Washington insiders would run a McCain White House. Pouncing on the recent announcement that Bill Timmons -- whom the ad refers to as "the consummate insider" -- would lead McCain's presidential transition team, an announcer claims that with McCain at the helm, "corporate special interests" will be "rigging the system against hardworking Americans, pushing failed Bush economics."
"Honor" (subscription), meanwhile, goes further than any other Obama ad in striking at McCain's character. It does so with quotes from editorials and op-eds, possibly attempting to shield Obama himself from accusations of being excessively negative. But the ad's message is clear: McCain is running a "disgraceful, dishonorable campaign." The spot opens with video of McCain from his 2000 campaign, pledging not to "take the low road to the highest office in this land," but it claims that he's now "running 'the sleaziest ads ever.'" The announcer concludes that McCain has resorted to "deception" because it is the only strategy "he has left."
The McCain camp responded by calling Obama's latest ad "a desperate effort to move away from talking about his thin, but alarming record on the issues," and said, "It isn’t going to reform Washington or strengthen our economy."
Monday, September 15, 2008 5:20 PM
Since the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund began airing "Brutal" (subscription) on Friday -- a TV spot that skewers VP nominee Sarah Palin for her support of aerial hunting -- donations have been pouring into the environmental advocacy group.
Senior Director Will Lutz said "hundreds of thousands" of dollars in contributions over the weekend will bankroll a wider ad campaign beyond the initial buy in the Toledo and Dayton, Ohio, and Tampa, Fla., markets. The advocacy fund is hoping to start running "Brutal" in Colorado, Michigan and Minnesota -- perhaps as early as today.
The one-minute TV spot juxtaposes Palin's face with clips of marksmen firing at frantic wolves from low-flying airplanes and a wounded wolf writhing in the snow. The ad closes on the image of a lifeless wolf draped onto a plane as the narrator asks, "Do we really want a vice president who champions such savagery?"
For Defenders of Wildlife, an ad campaign was a no-brainer after Palin was tapped for the VP slot.
"Our phones started ringing off the hook -- people panicking with what this woman would do if she were elected," Lutz said. "I think this is an issue that transcends your traditional hard-core conservationists."
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."
Friday, September 12, 2008 2:56 PM
As the Democratic and Republican parties survey the battleground for the presidential election, the parties' Senate committees are doing the same -- and some of the same states are in focus. Colorado and Minnesota are featured in both National Journal's swing state series and Hotline's race rankings of Senate seats likely to switch party control; Virginia, where both Barack Obama and John McCain campaigned this week, is Hotline's No. 1.
Energy and the economy, mainstays of the presidential battle, are hot topics in several Senate races. Another similarity between the presidential and senatorial battles is the negative tone -- the vast majority of both Senate committees' ads have gone on the attack.
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.
A labor advocacy group will begin airing $5 million worth of ads today -- Labor Day -- on national cable and in targeted states to press for legislation that would allow workers to organize without secret ballot elections, the Associated Press reported.
The national ads will appear on CNN and MSNBC. Localized versions will also appear in states with vulnerable Republican senators: Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire and Oregon. These ads, expected to air at least four weeks, urge viewers to call the senators to demand their support for the Employee Free Choice Act. They show a well-dressed, heavy-set executive seesawing with a worker and losing his advantage as more workers outweigh him.
Under current labor law, a company can demand a secret ballot election supervised by the federal government after being presented the union cards. The Employee Free Choice Act, a top priority for organized labor, would require employers to recognize unions after being presented union cards signed by a majority of eligible workers on their payrolls.
The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, a group backed by business groups and conservative organizations, has been campaigning against the legislation with its own ads in key states.
The Senate last year blocked an effort to pass the legislation; the House approved it in March 2007.
-- Convention Nightly staff
Monday, September 1, 2008 5:32 PM
A left-leaning advocacy group released an ad today in almost 400,000 hotel rooms across the country, including 5,000 in the Twin Cities area, tweaking conservatives for what the group contends has been eight years of "failure" -- most notably Republicans’ response to Hurricane Katrina.
Although the sarcastic "Thanks For The Memories!" is running nationwide, the target audience is primarily the attendees and participants of the GOP national convention. The ad opens with the text, "To the conservatives gathered in St. Paul: Thanks for the memories!" It uses the song lyrics and dismal images -- including a flood-stricken New Orleans -- to "thank" the Republicans for the economy's downward spiral. "Thanks for the memories... of sentimental verse... nothing in my purse..." the female vocalist sings as a gasoline pump and a foreclosure sign come up on the screen. The 30-second spot concludes with another Katrina reference: "You've done a heckuva job!" but "We'll take it from here." --Although the ad doesn't mention either Barack Obama or John McCain, the group openly supports the Democratic nominee.-->
Toby Chaudhuri, communications director for the group, said bringing the images of Hurricane Katrina front and center -- it is the first image in the ad -- was an obvious decision in light of Hurricane Gustav's impact on this year’s convention. The storm "has helped the made-for-TV show, giving the failed president and vice president a reason to stay out of town," Chaudhuri said. "Ten incumbent Republican senators already had decided that absence was the better part of valor.”
Chaudhuri doesn't have much faith in the GOP and has every intention of letting the conventioneers know that: "We're going straight into the lion’s den to remind delegates about the last eight years of failures. It will be difficult to salvage the Republican Party. Even Gustav is more of a haunted reminder of the bungled response to Katrina than a do-over."
The group bought airtime with a cable carrier that's exclusive to hotels, known as the Hotel Networks. It was an effective way to target Republicans visiting the Twin Cities, Chaudhuri said.
Efforts by a third-party organization to tie Barack Obama to the leader of a home-grown terrorist group are being met with stiff opposition from the Obama camp, perhaps demonstrating that Democrats learned their lesson in 2004. Four years ago, John Kerry waited several weeks to respond to ads launched by the Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, by which time the organization's message had already taken hold. This time around, Democrats are not taking any chances.
American Issues Project launched a TV ad last week presenting Obama as "friends" with William Ayers, once a member of the Weather Underground, the now-defunct radical group responsible for bombing the Capitol in 1971. The ad quotes Ayers saying, years later, that the group "didn't do enough," and an announcer says that Obama has nonetheless "defended Ayers as 'respectable' and 'mainstream.'"
"Why would Barack Obama be friends with someone who bombed the Capitol -- and is proud of it?" the announcer asks over ominous music. "Do you know enough to elect Barack Obama?"
The ad also references 9/11, comparing the 1971 bombing to the hijacking of United 93, which al-Qaida may have intended to fly into the Capitol building.
AIP President Ed Martin said that the spot was turned down for national ad buys on Fox News and CNN but is running regionally in several swing states -- including Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania. According to a letter filed with the Federal Election Commission, it is being financed by Harold Simmons, a Texas billionaire who also contributed to the Swift Boat campaign and is a bundler for John McCain.
Anti-war protesters plan to make their voices heard in Denver and St. Paul over the coming days, but one third-party organization is taking a different message to the airwaves during the parties' national conventions. Vets For Freedom, a group of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, released a new TV spot today urging Barack Obama to acknowledge that the surge strategy has been successful in stabilizing Iraq.
"I Am The Surge" features Gabriel Herrera, David Thul and Travis Quinlan, all of whom were deployed in Iraq during the surge. Herrera claims that Obama "credits the improvements in Iraq to anything but the surge." But, Quinlan argues, "I know the surge worked. I was there. I saw al-Qaida decimated." The soldiers encourage viewers to call Obama and ask him to support Senate Resolution 636, which "recognizes the success of the surge." The resolution is sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I/D-Conn. -- both of whom are surrogates for John McCain and past members of the Vets For Freedom board of advisers.
Vets For Freedom chairman Pete Hegseth, who just returned from a trip to Iraq, said in a press release that the organization "will not stand by and let the incredible progress of our troops go unnoticed by the American public and lawmakers from either side of the aisle.” In addition to releasing the ad, Hegseth and Vice Chairman David Bellavia are in Denver this week to talk to Democratic leaders about what they saw on their recent trip.
"Senator Obama has said that he would still oppose the surge if given another opportunity, and has pointed to every outside factor -- but the surge -- to explain improvements in Iraq. We hope he will listen to the veterans who have served there and support this important resolution for the sake of the troops," Hegseth said.
The ad will also run in battleground states Ohio, Michigan, Virginia and Colorado for the next four weeks.
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.
Monday, August 25, 2008 7:12 PM
All ad summaries are viewable without a subscription. For the next two weeks, during the Democratic and Republican national conventions, everything published on NationalJournal.com is free.
Colorado Senate (tip sheet)
• In "Choked," Mark Udall (D) says solving the energy crisis through a comprehensive plan is key to helping families stay afloat financially.
• The American Future Fund criticizes the "Gang of 10" proposal addressing oil prices in "Crippling" and chides Udall for supporting it.
Kentucky Senate (tip sheet)
• Businessman Bruce Lunsford (D) claims that GOP incumbent Mitch McConnell and his "Big Oil buddies" are reaping huge financial rewards while Kentuckians struggle to get by in "How Are You Doing?"
Monday, August 25, 2008 6:31 PM
With thousands of reporters and political bigwigs in Denver and the Twin Cities for the next two weeks, the Israel Project is hoping to seize the moment for a message underscoring the importance of a nuclear-free Iran.
The nonpartisan advocacy group is running two TV spots in both markets during the national conventions. "Nuclear Iran," the harder-hitting of the two, opens with an unsettling comparison: "Imagine Denver under missile attack from nearby Boulder." The ad goes on to explain that Israel faces those kinds of attacks from Hamas and Hezbollah, funded in part by Iran. Israel Project President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi said likening Iranian nuclear attacks to one here at home helps reiterate how imminently the issue should be dealt with. "People already understand the threat but the urgency of the threat is something we’re trying to bring home by pointing out the facts of what the outcome could be if we do nothing," Mizrahi said. The group is planning to run another version of this spot during the GOP convention with a Minnesota-specific reference.
The other ad, "Partners In Renewable Energy," stresses how energy independence from the Middle East would lead to a peaceful Israel while encouraging investment in renewable energy. "Israel and America. Partners in a changing world. That means a commitment to freedom, including freedom from giving our gas dollars to the Middle East," the announcer says.
Mizrahi said the sheer number of influential people attending the conventions -- from delegates to world leaders to reporters -- was the impetus behind tailoring the ads to convention attendees. The ads will air more than a thousand times on the major news channels in both convention cities.
"For politics, the conventions are like the Super Bowl plus the Olympics put together," Mizrahi said. "And because this year, more than ever before, I see momentum moving significantly toward helping reduce our dependency on foreign oil.... This seemed like the perfect opportunity, perfect storm, to communicate with the world."
Conservative group American Future Fund and the Republican National Committee didn’t waste any time attacking Democrats prior to the party's convention. Both groups released radio ads on Friday specifically to get a jump on the events in Denver.
In "What Will Harry Say?," American Future Fund references Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s speech Wednesday to continue its attacks on the Nevada Democrat for leaving on congressional recess before addressing oil prices. "What do you think Reid will say?" an announcer asks listeners. "He could talk about how he blocked the Senate from voting to drill for oil -- even as gas prices skyrocketed -- and then sent the Senate on a five-week vacation." The ad goes on to criticize a measure the "Gang of 10" -- a bipartisan group of senators working on energy legislation -- recently put forth. "The 'Gang of 10' plan doesn’t allow offshore drilling in the greatest oil reserves," the announcer says. "The plan doesn’t open oil shale reserves, which could contain three times the amount of oil as in Saudi Arabia. And it would raise energy taxes that consumers could end up paying."
The RNC's Spanish-language radio ad, "Commitment v. Rhetoric," aims to cast doubt on Barack Obama's commitment to Hispanic voters while highlighting what John McCain has done in Congress in support of immigration. "When Hispanics needed a friend in Congress during the immigration debate, who stood up? Who spoke out? John McCain," the announcer says. "Senator McCain worked with Republicans and Democrats alike to form immigration legislation." The ad goes on to criticize what Obama has done -- or hasn't, according to the RNC -- for Hispanics. "If Obama didn’t even have the courage to stand up for immigrants, how can he claim to have the strength to change the way Washington works?" The ad concludes by echoing the McCain camp's theme -- that the Illinois senator does not have the experience to be president: "John McCain is ready to lead. Barack Obama is not."
While the campaigns of both presidential hopefuls have been busy battling over the airwaves this last week, the conventions will surely trigger both to alter their respective ad strategies. The McCain camp is reportedly preparing to release several ads in an attempt to counteract the aggressive message Democrats are hoping to convey this week. Obama, on the other hand, has scaled back his ad buys in conservative regions like the South to focus more on the back-and-forth in the battleground states.
As Democrats prepare to descend on Denver, third-party groups from both the left and right have their eyes on the Colorado Senate race, where Rep. Mark Udall (D) leads former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R) by a slim 6 percentage points in the latest polling. With the two candidates vying for an open seat in what is increasingly viewed as a battleground region, these ads drive home what is also taking center stage nationally -- the energy crisis.
Freedom's Watch, in its first Senate ad (subscription) of the cycle, charges that "Udall skipped work, went to a fundraiser and sent Congress on vacation" rather than addressing energy legislation. "So next time you’re at the pump, call Skip Udall. I mean, Mark Udall," the announcer quips. "Tell him not to skip the next energy vote."
On the other side of the political spectrum, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee invites viewers to "Meet Bob" (subscription) in its latest spot, also released Tuesday. The DSCC chastises "Big-Oil Bob Schaffer" for voting in favor of giving oil companies tax breaks, and for his involvement with a controversial energy deal in Iraq. The ad also mocks Schaffer for a comment in which he described the recent record profits posted by oil companies as "modest."
Wednesday, August 20, 2008 5:50 PM
Barack Obama has discouraged left-leaning third-party groups from getting involved in this year's ad wars. But California-based PowerPAC is going on air today with a new TV spot in New Mexico that targets Latino voters.
"What Matters" (subscription) portrays Obama simultaneously as an average person and the embodiment of the American dream. "Barack Obama believes it shouldn’t matter if you look different" or if "your name is unusual," the announcer says, as images depicting ordinary Americans flash on screen. What does matter, according to the ad: "hard work, education, playing by the rules... the values that make dreams come true." The tag line calls the Democratic candidate "a new kind of leader. Just like you."
PowerPAC is running the ad in English and Spanish (script here [PDF]) and says it hopes to expand its ad buy to Colorado and Nevada in coming weeks. The progressive advocacy group has been supporting Obama's candidacy since the primaries with advertising and voter registration drives.
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.
It's not unusual for many of the most controversial spots of an election cycle to come from third-party groups, in part because such outside advocates, unfettered by the need to win office, have little reason not to make the biggest splash they can. Often the wild cards in the race, ads from such groups don't need to echo what any particular candidate is saying on the campaign trail or triangulate between different interest groups and constituencies.
Such spots can be triggered by specific comments politicians make, such as Planned Parenthood's attack ad criticizing John McCain for his non-answer to a question about Viagra and birth control (never mind that the premise of the question turned out to be false). They can trek into uncharted territory, too, like conservative advocacy group Let Freedom Ring did with a negative ad (subscription) against Barack Obama, the first political spot to air on MTV.
John Geer, a political advertising expert from Vanderbilt University, said the third-party ads in this election are capitalizing on the continuous news cycle that's becoming more common as Internet usage increases. "It’s a real shift of the information coming now; not just from the top down, it’s from the bottom up too," Geer said. "The news media has to then decipher it, and the 24-hour news cycle needs to be fed all the time." He noted, however, that those same conditions were also largely in place in 2004 and that attacks by groups such as MoveOn.org have actually lessened in this election season.
Here's a rundown of outside groups that have advertised so far this cycle and some of their most noteworthy ads. (All ads available to subscribers only.)
Those leaning to the left:
Thursday, August 7, 2008 6:20 PM
The quieter the halls of the Capitol get, the louder the howls are on the airwaves. This week, Congress embarked on a more than monthlong hiatus without acting on legislation aimed to curb high oil prices. Outraged by this, two conservative-leaning nonprofits -- Freedom's Watch and American Future Fund -- launched TV and radio ads across the country this week admonishing Congressional Democrats for going on "vacation" instead of addressing the energy crisis. On the other side of the aisle, MoveOn.org unveiled radio ads today to run in five states attacking House Republicans for their connections to oil companies.
On Wednesday, Freedom's Watch launched 10 radio ads and two TV ads in a total of 11 states targeting House Democrats from all angles: House incumbents seeking re-election, challengers to Republican incumbents, and candidates in open seats. In "Vacation" (subscription), aimed at Rep. Nancy Boyda, D-Kan., who is seeking her second term in the state's 2nd district, an announcer charges that "last week Nancy Boyda voted to send Congress on vacation, rather than work to bring down energy costs."
--For Democrats running for a House seat, the ads were tweaked to focus more on the candidates' positions on the energy crisis.-->In "Caribou" (subscription), the group berates New York congressional candidate Eric Massa for opposing oil drilling in Alaska and a proposed gas tax holiday. "The caribou come before beleaguered New York drivers," an announcer scolds. "Those taxes you pay on your gas -- Massa doesn't want to cut them or even give you some relief."
"The liberals we're targeting refuse to change their position on expanding responsible domestic drilling despite the fact it’s as unpopular as it is irresponsible," said Tim Pearson, spokesman for Freedom's Watch. "The sooner they embrace that change, the sooner we’ll lay off them."
In a concerted effort, MoveOn.org and the Sierra Club unveiled ads today deriding John McCain's proposal for offshore drilling. The ads are part of a national campaign, also including Campaign Money Watch, focusing on energy and gasoline prices.
MoveOn.org's "Gimmick" (subscription) features a middle-aged father sitting in a living room. "Senator McCain, you let me and my kids down," he says into the camera. "From the very beginning, I told them, 'This is a principled guy.' So when you said you were going to help me drive affordably again, I believed you." The man goes on to claim that McCain's offshore drilling proposal won't make a substantial difference in gas prices: "That's not a solution, Mr. McCain. That's a gimmick. We expected better."
The ad's setting and tone echo "Not Alex" (subscription), MoveOn's controversial June ad that featured a woman talking directly to McCain about how his Iraq policies were a threat to her infant son. In a conference call today with reporters, MoveOn Executive Director Eli Pariser said the overwhelming success of "Not Alex" -- as evidenced by a survey The Hill recently conducted -- prompted the organization to take that route again in this ad.
"We want to bring real voices into the debate," Pariser said. "Gimmick" "builds on this theme we started with the 'Alex' commercial -- a real person talking to the camera about an important issue."