Tales from the Trail

Swing state ad from hawkish Democrats hits Romney on foreign policy

A group of hawkish Democrats with close ties to President Obama’s re-election campaign announced on Thursday a new swing state television advertisement attacking Mitt Romney on national security and foreign policy issues.

The 60-second advertisement by the Truman National Security Project is part of a low six-figure media buy and is set to run in veteran-heavy Ohio, one of a handful of states that could prove pivotal to the Nov. 6 election.

The advertisement oscillates between press footage and a montage of young veterans speaking directly to a camera questioning Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney’s ability to keep Americans safe in a dangerous and unpredictable world.

“We deserve a Commander in Chief that understands what is at stake,” says Army Veteran Keith Johnson. “You don’t seem to have a plan, Mr. Romney.”

It jabs Romney for not mentioning in his nomination acceptance speech the war in Afghanistan and says the former governor of Massachusetts seems to be “grasping after straws” on tough foreign policy issues.

New crop of ads has both Obama, McCain slinging mud

WASHINGTON – If mud is the currency of political campaigns, the U.S. presidential race is on sounder footing than Wall Street.
 
Just look at the latest crop of campaign ads.
 
The way they tell it, voters on Nov. 4 are either going to elect a president with crooked friends or one who rtx8tgc.jpgwouldn’t mind seeing them sick and poor in retirement.
 
Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s new commercial portrays rival Barack Obama as being part of a corrupt Chicago political machine.
 
It revives questions about Obama’s links to political fundraiser Antoin “Tony” Rezko, who raised up to $250,000 for the Illinois senator’s previous political campaigns.
 
Rezko was convicted of fraud, attempted bribery and money laundering earlier this year. Obama has not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection with Rezko but has acknowledged an error of judgment in a land deal with the businessman.
 
McCain’s ad tries to tar Obama with his fundraiser’s misdeeds, and with his connections with Chicago politicians who have been investigated for various issues.
 
“His money man Tony Rezko. Client. Patron. Convicted,” the ad announcer intones. His political godfather Emil Jones. Under ethical cloud. His governor Rod Blagojevich. A legacy of federal and state investigations.”
 
“With friends like that, Obama is not ready to lead,” the ad says.

The Illinois Democrat takes a few shots — and a few liberties — in two of his own new ads that try to raise voter fears about McCain.
 
One portrays the Arizona Republican as wanting to gamble away people’s Social Security in the stock market.
 
“A broken economy, failing banks, unstable markets, families struggling. To protect us in retirement, Social Security has never been more important,” the ad says.
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It notes that McCain has favored privatizing Social Security by letting people invest some of their Social Security retirement savings in the stock market. And it quotes him saying he campaigned for Bush’s plan to do that.
 
“Cutting benefits in half. Risking Social Security on the stock market,” the ad says. “The Bush-McCain privatization plan. Can you really afford more of the same?”
 
Sounds worrisome, but FactCheck.org dismisses the benefit cutting as false. It says no one now getting benefits or close to retirement would have seen any reduction in benefits under the plan McCain supported. 
 
In another ad, Obama says deregulation of the financial industry led to the current U.S. economic crisis.
 
It accuses McCain of being a backer of that deregulation and says he now wants to do the same with health care.

“McCain just published an article praising Wall Street deregulation, said he’d reduce oversight of the health insurance industry too ‘just as we have done over the last decade in banking,’” the ad says.
 
“Increasing costs and threatening coverage. A prescription for disaster. John McCain. A risk we just can’t afford to take.”
 
FactCheck.org says the deregulation claim is taken out of context. In fact, he was only calling for deregulation to enable the sale and purchase of health insurance across state lines, FactCheck says. 

McCain crew finds Obama’s big flaw: He’s way too popular

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama can’t seem to please the folks running John McCain’s campaign for the U.S. presidency.
 
They criticized the Democratic candidate for not visiting Iraq, but then he spent nine days abroad, visited both fronts in the U.S. war on terror, didn’t make any fatal rtx855v.jpgmistakes and drew 200,000 people to a speech in Berlin.
 
Now the Republican’s campaign has a new beef against the Illinois senator — he’s way too popular, the most popular celebrity in the world, bigger even than Britney Spears or Paris Hilton.
 
It’s a point McCain makes in a new TV advertisement.
 
“I would say that it’s beyond dispute that he has become the biggest celebrity in the world. It’s a statement of fact. It’s backed up by the reality of his tour around the world,” McCain adviser Steve Schmidt told reporters in a conference call.
 
“They have more fans around the world than Britney Spears does. I make that bold blank statement,” added McCain campaign manager Rick Davis.
 
But McCain traveled around the world and met leaders too, so isn’t he a global celebrity as well? What’s the difference?rtr20ejt.jpg
 
“We see him more as a global leader than a global celebrity,” Davis said. “When people in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, want to talk to somebody who has a leadership and knowledge of positions around the world, they talk to John McCain. I contrast that with Barack Obama’s own trip to Europe. The focus on media, the focus on events and activities, is much more something you would expect from someone releasing a new movie than running for president.”
 
McCain’s crew sees devious motives behind the cultivation of popularity. Davis said it lets Obama “create a fan base around the world that allows him to get a lot of media attention and avoids him having to address the important issues of our time.”
 
But won’t people see the ad as negative campaigning?
 
Barack Obama started it, Davis said. He attacks McCain harshly every day on the campaign trail. Plus he was the first to turn to negative advertising, both in the primary and in the general election.
 
“I’m going to do everything in my power to protect my candidate,” Davis said.
 
“I’m going to let the American public decide what is negative or not negative.”

So what do you think, is it a fair ad or not?

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Crowds cheer Obama outside No. 10 Downing St. in London on July 26); Reuters/Brian Snyder (McCain speaks at campaign evenint in Maine July 21)