Campaign Cease-Fire at an End
By Jonathan Weisman
NEW YORK -- With the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks over, the campaigns of Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama went back to war this morning with new attack ads that use the same harsh tactics the candidates lamented in a forum on civic service here last night.
McCain last night conceded the campaign had become a little rough, blaming the tone on Obama's decision not to hold a series of joint town hall meetings. This morning, he released an ad, "Disrespectful" that kept up his campaign's "celebrity" line of attack on Obama even as it continued to cast his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as a victim, saying "they" dismissed her as "good looking," said she was just doing "what she was told" and called her a liar.
"He was the world's biggest celebrity, but his star is fading," the ad intones.
The independent watch dog group FactCheck.org has already weighed in, saying the ad -- on the air in Denver -- continues a McCain campaign pattern of distortion, taking quotes of context and twisting meaning. For instance, Obama's running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden, joked that one of the differences between himself and Palin is that she is "good looking," but contemporaneous news reports did not say that was belittling.
"The new McCain-Palin ad ... begins like an earlier ad we criticized, with its reference to Barack Obama's celebrity, but then goes down new paths of deception," Factcheck.org said.
Obama released two ads, one positive, the other on the attack, trying to focus the campaign on McCain, not Palin, and hammering home the theme of change. The attack is direct, accusing McCain of being out of touch with the country after 26 years in Washington: "He admits he still doesn't know how to use a computer, can't send e-mail. Still doesn't understand the economy, and favors $200 billion in new tax cuts for corporations, but almost nothing for the middle class."
"After one president who was out of touch," it concludes, "we just can't afford more of the same."
The ad uses jaunty, dated music, pictures of a middle-aged McCain wearing giant early-'80s glasses and images of a huge, boxy old cellular phone and a Rubik's Cube to drive home the theme that the Republican is out of touch after having been in Washington for decades.
The other spot features Obama simply looking into the camera and talking about his vision of change, with any reference to McCain coming by inference, not name. "To me, change is a government that doesn't let banks and oil companies rip off the American people. Change is when we finally fix health care instead of just talking about it. ... Change is a president who brings people together," Obama concludes.
Posted at 7:26 AM ET on Sep 12, 2008
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