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Breaking Down Obama's Personal Campaign Ad Breaking Down Obama's Personal Campaign Ad Breaking Down Obama's Personal Campaign Ad Breaking Down Obama's Per...

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Breaking Down Obama's Personal Campaign Ad

July 24, 2012
President Obama is up with a new ad, and for the first time this election, he's speaking to camera in this spot. The one-minute spot, titled "The Choice," is a well-produced articulation of his central campaign theme - and the campaign slogan "Forward" appears on the screen at the end, for good measure.  In it, he argues the election is a choice between two visions for the country, portraying Mitt Romney's plan as benefiting the very wealthy.

But the most notable aspects of the ad are the presentation and the tone. Compared to the acerbic attacks coming from his campaign lately, Obama takes a much more restrained approach, calmly explaining his differences with Romney. It raises questions whether the no-holds-barred attacks against Romney's tax records may have had a counterproductive effect. In last week's CBS/NYT poll, Obama's (net) personal favorable rating dropped to the lowest point in his presidency. Here, Obama is comparing visions, but taking a softer approach.

It also seems that Obama's campaign is using all the tricks in its playbook awfully early.  The politician-speaks-to-camera approach is one that is more commonly seen towards the very end of a campaign, and it's often a defensive strategy. (Check out these two ads in 2010 from losing Democratic Reps. Earl Pomeroy and Gene Taylor, both touting their records in the face of defeat.) Obama is a more skilled spokesman than most candidates, but there's a reason why narrators dictate most contrast ads, as opposed to the candidate.

The ad comes after Obama's campaign threw some of their toughest punches at Romney, with no discernible change in the polling. The race is still close, with neither candidate able to gain momentum. Obama stabilized his own standing in a month where economic news grew worse, but Romney's favorables haven't gotten noticeably worse, either. Indeed, a new USA Today/Gallup poll shows 63 percent of voters believe Romney's business background would lead him to make good economic decisions.

Obama's campaign has been operating smoothly lately, and has smartly thrown most of its punches early, given the tough environment the president is running in. On one hand, the president's new ad is a sign of that confidence. On the other hand, using the president himself to land hits against Romney in a campaign commercial -- over three months before Election Day -- is a sign of how difficult it will be for him to win a second term.
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