Obama's Working Class Pitch
By Howard Kurtz
The Ad: He worked his way through college and Harvard Law. Turned down big money offers, and helped lift neighborhoods stung by job loss. Fought for workers' rights. He passed a law to move people from welfare to work, slashed the rolls by eighty percent. Passed tax cuts for workers; health care for kids.
As president, he'll end tax breaks for companies that export jobs, reward those that create jobs in America. And never forget the dignity that comes from work.
Analysis: The key image here is the last one: Barack Obama throwing his arm around one of several older female workers in hairnets and aprons. The picture conveys the message that the Illinois senator cares about working-class folks and, in particular, the demographic he had little success with in the primaries, women over 50.
The commercial, like an earlier biographical ad, is designed to neutralize perceptions of Obama as an Ivy League elitist by playing up his background as a Chicago community organizer.
Obama did, however, work as a New York financial consultant before that, and by his own admission had little success helping Chicago neighborhoods cope with plant closings.
While Obama sponsored or co-sponsored measures involving welfare, health care and tax cuts in the Illinois legislature, to say he "passed" the laws, as if he were in a leadership post, overstates his role.
Obama has proposed eliminating tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas and a tax credit for firms that boost their U.S. payrolls. The goal of marrying such proposals to his modest background is to sell Obama as being on the side of average workers.
Posted at 5:57 PM ET on Jun 30, 2008
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