Obama Airs 30-Minute Spot, Releases Anti-Palin Ad

Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz tells Harry Smith that the Barack Obama TV spot was well produced, but perhaps over produced in some ways.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 30, 2008; Page A06

SUNRISE, Fla., Oct. 29 -- Eager to cement his case for the presidency in voters' minds before the campaign's frenetic final weekend, Sen. Barack Obama blitzed the television airwaves and deployed one of the Democratic Party's biggest names to deliver his message of change.

Obama's campaign spent more than $3 million to air a 30-minute infomercial on seven networks simultaneously. He appeared at one Florida rally with his running mate, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., and another with former president Bill Clinton as local news shows went live in this crucial battleground state.

The campaign also unleashed its first advertisement critical of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as Obama addressed big crowds Florida and North Carolina, where he hopes to snap a Republican run.

In a day capped with a taped interview on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," the Illinois Democrat also cautioned his supporters against overconfidence despite his lead in most polls. He told them: "Don't believe for a second this election's over."

In the 30-minute advertisement, which GOP nominee John McCain dismissed as a "gauzy, feel-good commercial," Obama aimed to etch a portrait as a candidate who understands the economic toll the nation is enduring and who would turn the page on the current administration.

He introduced voters -- a group carefully selected by his campaign that cut across lines of geography and race and discussed their struggles with mortgage payments, access to health care and fears of a losing a job.

Obama offered details about his approach to issues such as housing, taxes, the Iraq war and energy policy. Between snippets of speeches and endorsements from colleagues, he spoke of his mother, who died of cancer, and said, "We've been talking about the same problems for decades, and nothing is ever done to solve them."

The program ended with two minutes of live footage of Obama speaking to 20,000 cheering supporters in South Florida, where he hopes to stockpile votes in a state in which polls show him with a slender advantage. As the national audience tuned in, Obama said: "In six days, we can choose hope over fear and unity over division. The promise of change over the power of the status quo."

McCain was skeptical, likening Obama to an infomercial salesman.

"He's offering government-run health care," the Republican told a crowd in Riviera Beach, Fla., "an energy plan guaranteed to work without drilling . . . and an automatic wealth spreader that folds neatly and fits under any bed."

Obama scheduled his first public appearance with Clinton in the general-election campaign for a rally near Orlando timed for the 11 p.m. news. Clinton, the last Democratic presidential candidate to win Florida, backed him only after questioning his readiness during a bitter primary fight but is now campaigning on his behalf in a string of contested states.

The pair, introduced as "the 42nd president and the next president," took the stage to cheers from a crowd of 35,000. Declaring that Obama "represents the future," Clinton predicted that Obama would be a smart president "who wants to understand, and he can understand."

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