LRC News

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Old-fashioned Ads on the Economy: Obama and McCain, Talking Directly to the Camera

Both candidates released ads today addressing the economy, and both use an old-fashioned style; they address the camera directly. This is meant to reflect the urgency of the economic crisis, but also to serve as a dress rehearsal. Both ads give us a sense of what the candidate would look and sound like as president. The Jimmy Carter ad "Reality," below, is an early example of this style.

Obama ad "Plan for Change:"

McCain ad "Foundation:"

Jimmy Carter ad "Reality:"

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
527 Releases Ad With Implied Attack on Obama

Although not mentioning Obama by name, this ad by the self-described "nonprofit, nonpartisan" but clearly right-wing group uses a horror-movie comedy style to imply that voters should not be fooled by Obama's economic plans.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
New 527 Ads Are Released; One Anti-Obama, One Anti-McCain

A new 527 group,, released an ad targeting Obama's opposition to a bill in Illinois known as the "Born Alive Infants Protection Act," which opponents said would weaken Roe v. Wade. On the same day, released an ad, "My Friends," attacking McCain's ties to lobbyists.

Anti-Obama Ad from

Anti-McCain ad "My Friends:" from

UPDATE: On September 17, the group Vets for Freedom released an anti-Obama ad comparing remarks by General David Petraeus and Barack Obama on the surge:

UPDATE (9/19): The Obama campaign released a response to the "Born Alive" ad, refuting its claims and linking the 527 ad to the McCain campaign:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
McCain Ad "Enough is Enough"

The McCain campaign, seeking to limit political damage from his statement that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," released this ad about the economy which uses the word "crisis" three times.

Monday, September 15, 2008
Obama Ad on Equal Pay for Women

This ad about McCain's opposition to a bill mandating equal pay for women focuses on Obama's new main theme, a focus on the economic concerns of working-class voters, and also targets women voters, a problematic group for Democrats after the nomination of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee.

Monday, September 15, 2008
Robert Greenwald Anti-McCain PAC Ad Evokes Swift Boat Attacks on Kerry

Documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald, known for his films critical of George Bush and Fox News, has released a bound-to-be-controversial ad on national cable television with a former McCain fellow POW claiming that McCain doesn't have the proper temperament to be commander in chief. The ad is clearly modeled on the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth attack ads in 2004 against John Kerry.

UPDATE: This parody ad, "Hockey Moms Against Sarah Palin" is a spoof of the 2004 Swift Boat ads:

Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ad "Any Questions:"

Monday, September 15, 2008
Economy is the Focus of McCain Ad "Crisis;" Obama Posts McCain Video in Response

As Lehman Brothers announced its liquidation, Merrill Lynch was subsumed into the Bank of America, and the Dow Jones average dropped nearly 300 points when the market opened on Monday, September 15, the McCain campaign released an ad, "Crisis," focusing on the economy. The Obama campaign responded swiftly by posting news footage from the same day, September 15, of McCain saying that the fundamentals of the economy are "strong."

McCain ad "Crisis:"

Footage of McCain, posted by the Obama campaign in response to ad:

Monday, September 15, 2008
Special LRC Launch Event with Lorne Michaels, Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers in Person

"Saturday Night Live and Presidential Politics"

With Lorne Michaels, Seth Meyers, Amy Poehler, and James Downey in person.

Monday, September 15, 7:00 p.m. At The Times Center, 242 West 41 Street, Manhattan

Saturday Night Live has been an irreverent and influential commentator on American presidential politics since its debut season in 1975. The show has played an undeniable role in shaping and reflecting the public perception of our leaders and would-be leaders. SNL's founding producer Lorne Michaels, "Weekend Update" co-anchors Seth Meyers (also head writer) and Amy Poehler, and James Downey (veteran SNL writer) will discuss SNL’s approach to presidential politics.

The program is in honor of the 2008 edition of The Living Room Candidate, the Museum’s acclaimed website about the history of presidential campaign commercials, made possible with support from the Verizon Foundation.

Tickets: $15 Museum members / Free for Sponsor-level members and above / $30 non-members / $20 IFP members. Order tickets online at or by phone at 718.784.4520. Here is the eagerly awaited opening sketch from the season opener on September 13, with Tina Fey impersonating Sarah Palin, and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton:

Chevy Chase, who impersonated Gerald Ford during SNL's first season, appeared on the MSNBC show "Morning Show" on September 15. He praised Tina Fey's performance and then launched into a strong attack on Sarah Palin:

UPDATE: Barack Obama compared the McCain campaigns alleged gaffes on the economy to a Saturday Night Live routine.

Sunday, September 14, 2008
Service Employees International Union Releases Pro-Obama Ad

This ad in support of Obama's economic policies is part of what is expected to be a dramatic onslaught of ads from 527 groups to be released during the final 50 days of the campaign. The Service Employees International Union is planning a $2.1 million TV ad campaign targeting the swing states Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa. As a 527 group, the SEIU is not permitted to coordinate its efforts with the Obama campaign.

Sunday, September 14, 2008
Obama Continues Attacks With New Ad, "His Administration"

The Obama campaign intensified its attack with the release of another ad, "His Administration." Like a TV ad and Web ad released the day before, it aims at McCain's ties to lobbyists. Also, on the same day the ad was released, it was announced that Obama raised $66 million from donors in August. Much of this money will go towards fuelling Obama's increasingly aggressive ad campaign.

Saturday, September 13, 2008
Viral Video "Dear Mr. Obama" Seen by Six Million People in Three Weeks

In addition to TV and Web ads sponsored by the candidates, by the major parties, and by independent groups, the phenomenon of viral video makes it possible for amateur videomakers to reach millions of people. The pro-McCain video "Dear Mr. Obama," made by fillmaker Michael Brown and featuring Iraq veteran Joe Cook, has been viewed by six million people on YouTube in less than three weeks. Micah Sifry interviewed Brown, and writes about the video for techPresident.

Saturday, September 13, 2008
Obama TV Ad and Website Attack McCain on Alleged Ties to Lobbyists

In a coordinated multimedia attack focusing on McCain's and Palin's ties to lobbyists, the Obama campaign released a TV ad, "It's Over," a Web ad "The McCain Gamble," and a Website,

Obama TV ad "It's Over:

Obama Web ad "The McCain Gamble":

Saturday, September 13, 2008
Defenders of Wildlife 527 Ad Attacks Palin on Aerial Hunting

The group Defenders of Wildlife has released an ad that attacks Alaska Governor Sarah Palin for her support of aerial wolf hunting. The ad has aired in Ohio, and the group is trying to raise money to air it in Florida. Background on this particularly powerful ad can be found in this Wall Street Journal blog item.

Saturday, September 13, 2008
Spanish-language McCain Ad Attacks Obama on Immigration

The McCain campaign released a Spanish-language ad accusing Obama of being against immigration reform. Like many of McCain's recent ads, this one contains questionable claims which were disputed in articles in the mainstream media, such as this critique that ran in the Miami Herald.

Here is a translation of the ad:

Narrator: Obama and his Congressional allies say they are on the side of immigrants. But are they?

The press reports that their efforts were 'poison pills' that made immigration reform fail.

The result:

No guest worker program.

No path to citizenship.

No secure borders.

No reform.

Is that being on our side?

Obama and his Congressional allies ready to block immigration reform, but not ready to lead.

John McCain: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.

Friday, September 12, 2008
Planned Parenthood Ad Attacks McCain's "Sex Education" Ad

Planned Parenthood, which has endorsed Barack Obama, released an ad on September 12 in rebuttal of the John McCain ad "Education." The McCain ad accused Obama of advocating comprehensive sex education for kindergarteners, a distorted charge that has been rebutted in numerous news articles, and in this report by FactCheck.Org.

Planned Parenthood Response to McCain Ad "Education":

McCain ad "Education":

Friday, September 12, 2008
Ad War Intensifies After One-Day Break for 9/11

After a day-long break from new campaign ads on 9/11, both campaigns released new attack ads on the morning of 9/12. In an article about The Living Room Candidate in The New York Times, Alessandra Stanley wrote about the 2008 ads: "The political discourse is so overrun with negative ads and charges of guilt by association that voters can be forgiven for confusing which candidate is supposedly akin to Britney Spears and which one seems too close to President Bush, or who smeared whom with lipstick smears."

The Obama campaign released three ads, "Real Change" and "Out of Touch," and an ad about McCain's ties to lobbyists.

Also on the morning of September 12, the McCain campaign released an ad "Disrespectful," accusing the Obama campaign of trying to smear Sarah Palin's reputation in response to falling poll numbers. That morning, McCain was strongly questioned about the veracity of his ads on The View.

Obama ad "Real Change":

Obama ad "Still":

McCain ad "Disrespectful":

UPDATE (9/24):An independent group known as "Citizens for Open and Responsive Government" released an ad for Colorado TV claiming that the Obama ad "Still," about the fact that McCain doesn't use a computer, was an attack on his war-related disability. While the Obama ad was trying to portray McCain as being behind the times, this ad, "Wounded Veteran," features as veteran asking, "Mr. Obama, why do you attack Senator McCain because of his disability?"

527 ad "Wounded Veteran":

Thursday, September 11, 2008
Alabama Congress Ad Funded by RNC Includes McCain and Palin

This ad for Republican Congressman Jay Love is the first local ad to include John McCain and Sarah Palin. It is funded by the Republican National Committee. Combining a local race with a national race, this is an example of a "hybrid" ad; The cost for the ad is split between the RNC and the McCain campaign, taking advantage of a loophole which allows candidates to stretch their public campaign funds.

Thursday, September 11, 2008
Web Ad "Lipstick" Claims that Obama was Insulting Palin

The new McCain Web ad "Lipstick" takes Barack Obama's critique of McCain's economic policies ("You can put lipstick on a pig and it's still a pig") and claims that the remark was directed at Sarah Palin. The ad was quickly pulled from YouTube because of a copyright claim by CBS, which did not give permission for the use of Katie Couric in the ad. Barack Obama responded to the ad, and other recent attack ads, in a news conference. And by the afternoon, the website SlateV posted video of McCain using the phrase "lipstick on a pig" to describe Hillary Clinton's health care proposals.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"Fact Check" (McCain 2008) and "Wolves" (Bush 2004)

The new McCain attack ad, "Fact Check," uses images of wolves to represent the investigators sent to Alaska to research Governor Palin's record. Wolves also appeared in a George Bush attack ad from 2004. Steve Schmidt, McCain's chief campaign strategist, was a member of Karl Rove's "breakfast club" of advisers during the campaign that year. The McCain ad cites the neutral watchdog group FactCheck.Org to back up its claims about Palin even though that group has refuted Palin's claim that she opposed the "Bridge to Nowhere." Of course, it was inevitable that would fact check "Fact Check." Within hours after the release of the ad, this item was posted: "McCain-Palin Distorts Our Finding".

Tuesday, September 9, 2008
McCain ad "Temple" Returns to Celebrity Theme

The latest John McCain ad, "Temple," returns to the theme of attacking Barack Obama as a "celebrity," this time by focusing on the stagecraft behind his convention speech.