Obama's Patriotic Pitch

Friday, June 20, 2008


"America is a country of strong families and strong values. My life's been blessed by both. I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. We didn't have much money, but they taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland where they grew up. Accountability and self-reliance. Love of country. Working hard without making excuses. Treating your neighbor as you'd like to be treated. It's what guided me as I worked my way up -- taking jobs and loans to make it through college. It's what led me to pass up Wall Street jobs and go to Chicago instead, helping neighborhoods devastated when steel plants closed. That's why I passed laws moving people from welfare to work, cut taxes for working families and extended health care for wounded troops who'd been neglected. I approved this message because I'll never forget those values, and if I have the honor of taking the oath of office as president, it will be with a deep and abiding faith in the country I love."


The core message of this 60-second spot -- "the country I love" -- is designed to neutralize perceptions that Sen. Barack Obama is less than patriotic, in the wake of his earlier decision to forgo a flag pin and his wife's comment about not having been really proud of her country before now. The images of his mother and grandparents with Obama as a child serve a biographical function for viewers who are not that familiar with his life story, while also illustrating the values -- "accountability and self-reliance" -- that he wants to make part of his campaign message.

Obama sponsored or co-sponsored -- but did not "pass" -- the welfare and tax measures but does not mention that these were in the Illinois legislature in 1997 and 2000. He sponsored congressional measures that helped hospitalized veterans, but in a relatively minor way: extending beyond 90 days the period in which they can receive free meals and free phone calls to family members.

Obama may have turned down Wall Street jobs after graduating from Columbia University in 1983, but he spent a year working for Business International Corp. in New York before becoming a community organizer in Chicago, and he later joined a law firm there.

With Obama speaking softly over gentle guitar music, the ad strikes a humble tone that contrasts with his passionate orations before big crowds.

Video of this ad can be found at www.washingtonpost.com/politics.

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