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Campaign Cease-Fire at an End

Sen. Barack Obama greets Sen. John McCain at the Service Nation Summit at Columbia University in New York, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008. (Chris Carlson/AP)

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 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," 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.

By Web Politics Editor  |  September 12, 2008; 7:26 AM ET
Categories:  Ad Watch , Barack Obama , Joe Biden , John McCain , Primary Source , Sarah Palin  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Palin Endorses Idea McCain Called "Naive"
Next: Obama Doubles Down on Change Message


We will never forget the vile lies and slander of the liberal hate machine that was directed at a 17 year old and Gov. Palin.

You discusting excuses for human beings call yourself progressives but what you are is the scum of the earth. You showed your true colors when Palin was announced and we will never forget it. None of your screaming and whining will change that.


Posted by: julia | September 13, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Much more disturbing to me than McCain's campaign of half-truths and untruths is the capacity of the American people to swallow this garbage. We seem to have lost any capacity to think critically. It makes me fear for the future of our republic. Mind you, I don't like it when Obama veers from the truth, either. But I find it happening much less often than is the case with McCain's smear machine.

I WOULD listen to McCain, Republican that he is (and Democrat that I am), if he would bother to tell the truth and talk about the issues. What happened to the McCain of 2000? Should we have a wake?

Posted by: old white male democrat in WV | September 12, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Is Sarah Palin the first VP candidate to possibly be indicted? I honestly cannot think of another candidate this has happened to.

History being made.

Posted by: whynot | September 12, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Palin looks more like a Tina Fey impersonator. McCain’s wife looks like an Amy Poler look-alike. Are they running a campaign, or are they on the road promoting the "Baby Mama" DVD release with their former SNL guest host (aired on October 12, 2002, with musical guest, The White Stripes), John McCain? Damn celebrities and their yacht parties with the lovely Ann Hathaway and her then boy friend Raffaello Follieri.

Posted by: allhailtheevangelicalsatan | September 12, 2008 12:30 PM | Report abuse

The chutzpah of the McCain campaign in calling Barack Obama disrespectful causes me extreme cognitive dissonance when juxtaposed against the contempt with which Palin treated Barack Obama during her convention acceptance speech.

In addition, saying Barack Obama is "disrespectful" is just another way of saying he is "uppity." The message is not even coded, it is right up front.

I find this even more disgraceful than the sex education ad.

Posted by: Mary | September 12, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Over 70 retired generals and admirals have endorsed Obama/Biden '08

Hope and Change backed by strength.

Democrats and Obamacans's courting all Republican and Independent Voters!

Our World!

Obamacan's - “The best defense against usurpatory government is an assertive citizenry.”
William F. Buckley, Jr. quote

The real change team for the last 19 months
Change we can believe in.

Vote Obama/Biden '08

Posted by: Cooday | September 12, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"About the guy that said Obama was an Arab not Black. When did Kenya become part of the mideast? Also, by the way....I honestly don't care if the man is purple with blue dots. If he can lead my country in the right direction (which he will!) then why should it matter the color of his skin."

Well put. I would take a "star-bellied sneech" for president if it had the policies that Obama has compared to McCain's policies.

Side note, anyone see the commercial mocking politics with the baby verse the kitten? Really makes you think hard about smear campaigning.

Posted by: Tim | September 12, 2008 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Just a sampling of the "mom, he hit me" tactits used by McCain&Co throughout this campaign:

* * *

The McCain campaign said the "losing his bearings" comment was an underhanded reference to the fact that McCain is 71 years old.

In a new attack ad called "Lipstick", the McCain-Palin campaign said Obama was only "ready to smear" ... a McCain campaign spokesman called Obama's comments "offensive and disgraceful."

McCain's campaign Sunday issued a pair of outraged statements after retired general and Barack Obama supporter Wesley Clark said he didn't think that McCain’s service as a fighter pilot and prisoner of war was relevant to running the country.

Posted by: Ready for Outrage on Day 1 | September 12, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Karl Rove leaves icky drippy finger marks on whomever he gropes, and his nasty smut is *all over* John and Sarah.

His words wash like scum across the blogosphere, typed out by hundreds of Republican college kids who've taken the semester off to sit in front of their laptops in "blogger boilerrooms" and flood the comments with speaking points such as:

Obama running against Palin and Bush
Congress more unpopular than Bush
Importance of checks & balances
False birth certificate
Paper-thin resume
Rezko, Ayres, Wright
Kenyan family in squalor
Hasn't gone against his party
Body language
How the audience reacted

Stay tuned for more from the typing monkeys.

Posted by: Smearleader | September 12, 2008 10:00 AM | Report abuse

About the guy that said Obama was an Arab not Black. When did Kenya become part of the mideast? Also, by the way....I honestly don't care if the man is purple with blue dots. If he can lead my country in the right direction (which he will!) then why should it matter the color of his skin.

Posted by: Amber | September 12, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

This election is for the Dems to win or lose. The Republicans have taken obfuscation to an art form, and the Democrats need to learn real fast or it is to late. They need to act not react. McCain would swear that he is running a clean campaign, and not even blink, the Dems need to take charge of the debate, and not let McCain do it.....

Posted by: SuperDem | September 12, 2008 9:38 AM | Report abuse

I am glad to see the attacks on Palin calm down a bit, No one cares, if Sarah Pain is having an Affair Or if Sarah Palin looks pregnant again These are just attacks., I only care about her ability to lead.

Posted by: pastor123 | September 12, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

"The independent watch dog group has already weighed in, saying the [Disrespectful] ad -- on the air in Denver -- continues a McCain campaign pattern of distortion, taking quotes [out] of context and twisting meaning."

McShame's conduct on these ads is dishonorable. Carville gives him a pass as not truly knowing what's going on, but if this is so the old skipper is derelict in his duty.

Posted by: Four more years? | September 12, 2008 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Since Todd Palin was cc'd on official and confidential Alaska government emails, why isn't his membership with the Alaska Independent Party not being brought up by surrogates ????

Posted by: Mz | September 12, 2008 9:18 AM | Report abuse

"but keep trying democrats. each and every smear is a poll point, and we are ahead overall, and just one state behind electorally."


I'll start with McCain:

1) Inexperienced, when Obama has 20+ years of experience in government and law.

2) "pig" comment, obviously not a sexist comment, just taken out of context to scare people about Obama and women.

3) Obama will raise taxes, on only 5% of americans while he will lower taxes on 95%

4) Obama is afraid to hae a townhall style meeting, no he doesn't want to give McCain free press.

5) Celebrity status, HE IS RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT, is that not popular enough to be on tv?

Every 3rd sentence out of McCain's mouth is "Obama will do" WHEN IT SHOULD BE, "I WILL DO."

Posted by: Tim | September 12, 2008 9:15 AM | Report abuse

While I've long been in Obama's corner and am a precinct captain for him here in Tx, I didn't like the McCain ad from this AM. This is a compelling ad message wise but whoever is doing the visuals on the Obama campaign missed the mark on this one with the focus groups.

At best, the visuals dampen the actual message in this ad and at worst, this could just open up a new avenue of attacks by the McCain campaign - "ageism". The ad should have featured the McSame quotes/press clippings with more recent pictures of him.

Posted by: Mz | September 12, 2008 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Please, keep talking about Obama's friends and ties to terrorists. You are a joke.

Obama talks about McCain's failed policies.

McCain's, as well as your, argument is that his policies are not worth talking about.

The fact is McCain has no change for America. His only plan to win is to make people afraid of Obama because of smears and rumors.

Did you really beleive that Obama was calling Palin a pig? Only and idiot would beleive that, and that is who the GOP is pandering too, IDIOTS.

They know there is enough IDIOTS in this country that will do NO research on POLICIES, but will watch the 30s comercials that LIE and painit OBAMA as EVIL.

Please educate yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 12, 2008 9:10 AM | Report abuse

btw, where is the smear?

its pratically public knowledge that obamas history of education and work has been mediocre at best.

his past friends have shown bad judgment on his part.

and his finance contributers have been embezzlers.

not to mention the fact that he IS arab, but not BLACK as people portray him.

and he DOES have a record of not changing.

to say that the mccain camp has smeared, is ignorant. yes we all know the rumors that obama was/is muslim THAT CAME OUT WHILE HILLARY WAS STILL IN THE RACE. (why do we blame that on mccain?).

how about the rumors that palin called obama "sambo". is that not a smear campaign?

face it, teh democrats are so into beleiving that this is just SMEARS that they have started seeing if it works for them. someone has to be wondering.



face it, the republican party has honest reasons to question baracks character friends campaign finances (the country he was born in which he has never shown proof of.) and his judgments.

while the democrats have said its a lie so much that they are starting to beleive their own B.S. so they have started throwing things at the wall to see if they stick.

and big surprise NOTHING STICKS.

palin walks out of every controversy smelling like roses.

how many people know that the troopergate investigation is over 2 years old an still hasnt found any information. or that the man in question said directly after being fired "it has nothing to do with wooten".

but keep trying democrats. each and every smear is a poll point, and we are ahead overall, and just one state behind electorally.

Posted by: dale | September 12, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

rofl, cus this is obviously the tone of "a different kind of politics".

what happened to the high road? can anyone pinpoint the moment it was gone? alot of people blame the mccain ads. but check your actual figures, after the biden pick obamas poll numbers dropped 3 points, it was unnoticable because of the DNC and his 3-5 point bounce.

obama changed his campaign tactic time after time after time. while mccain continues to run making "reckless decisions" and they say hes not a maverick.

how ironic that the campaign of "CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE" has CHANGE CHANGE CHANGED so many times.

Posted by: dale | September 12, 2008 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Both campaigns will continue to engage in punch and run tactics, while expressing a get back to the issues outrage. I don't see a way around this.

Posted by: CitizenX | September 12, 2008 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Tastes great, less filling.

McCain's campaign team, run by Rove protege Steve Scmidt, is arrognant enough to believe they can run the same attack and smear campaign they won with in 2004.

They might be right.

Palin is a prop and a diversion. She couldn't think her way out of a paper bag if someone didn't tell her how to first. But she did help McCain solidify his base and move on to the moderates he's going to need to win.

Ohio is the key again, as it was in 2004.

Posted by: MA | September 12, 2008 8:09 AM | Report abuse

How Obama Needs to Fight Now

1. Lie with impunity. The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it. Lies are rewarded by the press, the corrections…not so much. So…John McCain wants to give illegal immigrants full immunity and make them all citizens (citing immigration policy). Sarah Palin want to turn America into a theocracy (citing her nutty church and beliefs). McCain/Palin want to close Social Security and Medicaid / Medicare (inference from statements). Sarah Palin sought to actively rebel against the United States (citing AIP). Etc.

2. Tell nasty truths. McCain shoved a woman in wheelchair. Collaborated with the North Vietnamese. Told tasteless joke about a political opponent’s child (Chelsea Clinton). Called his own wife the C-word! Run commercials showing footage of McCain saying the war in Iraq would be easy, contrasted with footage of him saying he never said it. This is leadership? The list for these two is endless.

3. All hands on deck. Where are the surrogates? I don’t hear Gore, Dean, the Clintons, various female governors and senators, Dodd, Richardson, etc., making news. Where is Hillary Clinton with this statement: “Frankly, I am shocked that Sarah Palin hasn’t given a press conference. The McCain/Palin ticket seems to be hiding behind gender to avoid answer legit questions about her qualifications to be president. This is not what my campaign was about.” These people should be out there every day, on message. If you have an off message thought, keep it to yourself.

4. Attack all the time. One after the other, without pause. Don’t let anyone catch their breath before moving on to the next fake outrage. One web video/commercial per day.

5. Stand up behind your attacks. Never apologize.

Read the rest here:

Posted by: ES | September 12, 2008 8:01 AM | Report abuse

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