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New RNC Ads Go After Obama on Energy

The Republican National Committee last night began running ads questioning Barack Obama's commitment to energy reform, the first major ad buy by either party in the presidential race.

"Record gas prices, a climate in crisis," says the ad's narrator. "John McCain says solve it now." The spot then details McCain's "balanced" plan on energy and notes that the Arizona Senator is "pushing his own party to face climate change."

Obama, on the other hand, says nothing but "no" when it comes to addressing the energy problems the country is facing. "He just says no to lower gas taxes.... No to nuclear.... No to more production," says the narrator before concluding: "No new solutions. Barack Obama: Just the party line."

The ads are running the four key battleground states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio. They were produced by a newly formed independent expenditure arm of the RNC being run by Brad Todd, a GOP media consultant.

The advertising effort is an attempt to exploit a rare -- and significant -- financial edge for Republicans. At the end of May, the RNC had $53.5 in the bank while the Democratic National Committee had just $3.9 million.

With Obama opting out of public financing for the general election and his team taking over the DNC, that financial gap won't exist for long, so Republicans are smart to move as quickly as they can to exploit it.

The spot itself represents one of a number of lines of attack that Republicans have trotted out against Obama in the first month of the general election campaign: that he is all talk and no action.

McCain and Republicans know that if they cede the reform mantle to Obama, they will struggle to win the White House in the fall. These ads are designed to cast McCain as, for lack of a better phrase, a reformer with results -- a stark contrast to Obama's alleged unwillingness to break from party lines to make change.

Will the ads work? That depends on any number of factors including how long the RNC is able to sustain the message on television, whether McCain trots out a similar message to amplify the RNC ads and how/if Obama reacts to the commercials.

The initial Obama response? A stunned skepticism. "What we need to solve our energy crisis is an honest debate about the choices before us, not more attack ads that mislead voters about the facts," said Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan.

By Chris Cillizza  |  July 6, 2008; 10:08 AM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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