Barack Obama's camp launched a new TV ad in PA 4/16, "responding to a negative attack ad" from Hillary Clinton "that misleads" about Obama's "record of standing up to special interests." Full script, "Dime":
ANNCR: "Across Pennsylvania, families are struggling. What's Hillary Clinton's answer? The same old politics. Misleading negative ads. The truth? It's Barack Obama who's taken on the oil companies, worked to strip away their tax breaks as they run up record profits, and demanded higher gas mileage standards. And Obama's the only candidate who doesn't take a dime from oil company PACs or lobbyists. And that's change we can believe in." OBAMA: "I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message" (release, 4/16).
Obama's camp launched another new ad in PA 4/15, responding to Clinton's earlier "attack" ad. Full script, "Represent":
CLINTON (tape): "I know that many of you, like me ... were disappointed by recent remarks that he made." (jeers) ANNCR: "There's a reason people are rejecting Hillary Clinton's attacks. Because the same old Washington politics won't lower the price of gas or help our struggling economy. Barack Obama will represent all Americans. He offers a new approach." OBAMA: "When we get past the politics of division and distraction and we start actually focusing on what we have in common, there's nothing we can't accomplish. I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message" (release, 4/15).
Clinton comm. dir. Howard Wolfson, on Obamas' ad: "I think, unfortunately, it was Senator Obama who was practicing a little bit of the politics of division by going to a fundraiser in San Francisco when making some rather uninsulting remarks about people in Pennsylvania. ... The Obama campaign has done everything it can to recast what he said to avoid really getting into any detailed explanation of what he said. But the fact is that what he said was offensive to many, many people" ("Morning Joe," MSNBC, 4/16).
Obama "continues to vastly outspend" Clinton on PA TV ads, "an imbalance that is allowing him to pursue voters on speciality channels such as ESPN and MTV." In "cable spots pre-ordered for the final week of campaigning," Obama has reserved $465K in ads, to Clinton's $91K (Mosk, "The Trail," WashingtonPost.com, 4/15).
Meanwhile, Washington Times' Bellantoni and Dinan write, Obama "broke his vow against negative campaigning" this week with his Web ad "attacking" Clinton's ties to lobbyists. Wolfson "said he had no response." Wolfson: "If it's something that they want to put their considerable resources behind by putting on television, we'll respond to it" (4/16).
Where's Andre? With Obama (And Tim Gunn At The Red Lobster)
Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) endorsed Obama this a.m., saying Obama "is a fighter for working families, and part of a new generation of leadership that will bring needed change for our country" (release, 4/16). Carson is the first IN rep to endorse (Indianapolis Star, 4/16).
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette endorsed Obama, writing, "For us it is the candidates' vision and character that loom as the decisive factors in this race. ... One candidate is of the past and one of the future."
Obama "is every bit as prepared to answer the ring of the 3 a.m. phone as Sen. Clinton. ... When the occasion demands it, he can marshal eloquence in the service of making challenging arguments ... Nor is he any sort of elitist. As he said yesterday in effectively refuting this ridiculous charge in a meeting with Post-Gazette editors, 'my life's work has been to get everybody a fair shake.'"
Obama "has captured much of the nation's imagination for a reason. He offers real change, a vision of an America that can move past not only racial tensions but also the political partisanship that has so bedeviled it" (4/16).
And We Don't Even Have To Give Away Bumper Stickers
Obama's camp sent out a fundraising email 4/15 setting a goal of 1.5M donors by 5/6, saying, "there's noting 'elitist' about" more than a million people contributing to Obama's bid (Hotline sources, 4/15).
Also 4/15, Obama "referenced" his "bitterness" remarks at the end of his speech to the Building and Construction Trades Dept. in DC, "departing from his prepared text in doing so." Obama: "If you've been filling up your gas tank, you're angry. You've got to feel some frustration. You've got to feel some anger when you get the sense that the American way of life for so many people is slipping away." More: "If anyone denies that people are frustrated and angry and yes, sometimes bitter, then they are out of touch." But, Obama said, that's "not a reason to give up hope" (Oliphant/Parsons, Chicago Tribune, 4/16).
A Thorough Vet-ing
Asked at a town hall meeting with veterans 4/15 in Washington, PA, if Clinton's "attacks" about elitism and bitterness had crossed a racial line, Obama said, "I don't think there are racial overtones to the attacks going on right now. I think it's politics. This is what we do politically when we start getting behind in races and we start going on the attack."
Obama also "firmly rejected the elitist label by listing some of his humble roots," including being raised by a single mother, relying on food stamps and only recently paying off his student loans. Obama "called the uproar over his comments" evidence that it's "political silly season." Obama: "What we really need to do right now is focus on solving problems" (Sherman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/15).
PA Auditor General Jack Wagner, a Vietnam War vet who earned the Purple Heart, introduced Obama, and endorsed him. Wagner said Obama "has proven to us that he has the leadership to lead our country, not just out of this war, but to make sure veterans" are properly served (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 4/15).
"About 300 people, many of them veterans, packed the invitation-only event." Obama "spoke for 10 minutes and took questions for nearly an hour." He received "loud applause" when he touted a "bipartisan effort" to improve veterans' services (Brown, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 4/15).
Feels Like A Flag Pin Kinda Day
In an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ed board 4/15, Obama said of his bitterness remarks, "What I do regret is that in one quick statement that wasn't phrased properly I detracted from what I think has to be a genuine effort on the part of Democrats to speak to constituencies we haven't always reached out to."
Obama said Dems "spent a lot of time on issues that I think pushed away a lot of potential voters. We spent a lot of time on identity politics; we spent a lot of time talking about rights but not responsibility. ... Part of our job in this election is to get past some of those arguments we had in the '60s." Obama also said Dems have "lost touch with the economic realities of a lot of people. We started being financed by the same lobbyists and the same special interests as" the GOPers, "and as a consequence, you started seeing policies that ... from the perspective of a lot of working Americans, didn't seem all that different."
During the interview, Obama "wore an American flag pin in his lapel, something that he has not made a habit of recently." Obama "explained that he had received the pin just hours earlier from a disabled Vietnam-era veteran" at the town hall. Obama: "The notion that somehow I was refusing to wear flag pins was just not accurate. ... I do think that after 9/11 I saw a lot of people who were wearing flag pins but voting in ways that I thought didn't always speak to what I think our patriotism requires."
Obama, on wearing the pin: "This wasn't some kind of statement I was making. A disabled veteran who has fought for his country asks you to wear one, that's something I'm happy to do. It's the same reason I wear this bracelet that a mother gave me after a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Her 20-year old was killed in a roadside bombing so I haven't taken it off since" (O'Toole, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/16).
Reach Out And Touch Me
Michelle Obama "answered the question of 'elitism'" 4/15 in PA, "receiving a standing ovation at Haverford College by saying that she was the product of a working class family and public education."
M. Obama: "There's a lot of people talking about elitism and all of that. But let me tell you who me and Barack are, so you are not confused. Yeah, I went to Princeton and Harvard, but the lens through which I see the world is the lens that I grew up with. I am the product of a working-class upbringing. ... I want people to know when they look at me, to be clear that they see what an investment in public education can look like."
More M. Obama: "If I'm telling you something that you don't know, let me know. Maybe things are better, and I'm just missing the boat and I'm out of touch" (Berger, NBC/National Journal, 4/15).
M. Obama also spoke to a "capacity crowd" (Joyce, York Daily Record, 4/16) of about 900 in York, where audience members were "moved" and called her "awe-inspiring" (Lindquist, York Dispatch, 4/15).
Humor Me, Stephen
M. Obama also appeared on "Colbert Report" 4/15, and spoke with Stephen Colbert about her husband's candidacy:
M. Obama, asked how many silver spoons her family had growing up on Chicago's South Side: "We had four spoons. Then my father got a raise at the plant, and we had five spoons."
On the experience of campaigning with her husband: "You know, this has been a privilege. I have to say, being able to travel around the country meeting people. ... Coming on ['Colbert Report'] is the highlight. ... Barack and I tend to look at the positive. We don't look at what could go wrong, what the problems are, because there is so much that Barack can do for this country. So I'm willing to make the sacrifices to get him in office."
On why she thinks women support Obama: "There are many women like myself who are independent, strong, focused, who care about family values who know that Barack is special, that he has something unique to offer the country and that his perspective is really going to change the lives of working women. He understands because he's living with me" (Comedy Central, 4/15).
Politico's Vogel, on M. Obama's appearance: "Clearly, she's joking around here, but it's also a very good answer, in that it plays into the Obama campaign's approach, not only to this controversy but all the controversy that he's seen in the course of the campaign this year. From his associations with his controversial pastor, Reverend Wright, [to] his lifting lines from a political ally' speech. ... [Obama] says the criticism about these things is really just politics as usual and it's laughable and he is the one to sort of take us beyond that. Michelle Obama's response to Stephen Colbert, sure it's funny, but it's also effective in that it takes the same line" ("American Morning," CNN, 4/16).
Debate Prep: More Fun With Rabbis
Obama "will meet with about 50 American Jewish leaders" in Philly this a.m., including "rabbis, professional leaders and lay leaders" (Berger, NBC/National Journal, 4/15). Obama heads to NC 4/17 (release, 4/16).
Plouffe Hits Kokomo; Plus A PA Secret Weapon
Today in primary state press chatter:
• Obama's "Nothing's Changed" ad, now running in PA, got more scrutiny for its claim that Obama doesn't take money from oil companies. Obama has accepted $222,309 in contributions from oil and gas company employees. Obama also "holds fundraisers at law firms that lobby" in DC; he accepts fundraising from state lobbyists; from the spouses of federal lobbyists; and from other executives he criticizes (Dilanian, USA Today, 4/16).
• Chicago Tribune's Dorning writes, PA's blue collar Dems "will provide a fresh reading" on Obama's appeal "among white working-class voters that party officials and convention superdelegates will be watching," along with IN results, "as they consider whether to fall in behind Obama to end a potentially divisive contest" for the Dem nod. It's "unclear how much Obama's task may be complicated" in PA "by subtle racism" (4/16).
• Philadelphia Daily News' Smerconish writes, as a GOPer, "I can't pull a lever on Tuesday. But if I could, I would vote for Obama for 7,000 reasons." Primarily, Obama "has refused to back away from his insistence on reasserting American control over the hunt for" Osama bin Laden (4/16).
• Author/labor leader Jim Kaplan writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "if there's a hole between Obama and union members, there's a chasm between Republicans and them" (4/16).
• Obama mgr. David Plouffe told a crowd of 100 in Kokomo, IN, 4/15 that Obama will win the Dem nod, and said, "People are angry with the direction of the country. ... The voice of the people will drive this government" (de la Bastide, Kokomo Tribune, 4/16).
• Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins touted Obama's candidacy to "about 40" students at PA's Mansfield Univ. 4/15, asking them to be a part of "Generation Obama" (Osgood, Elmira Star-Gazette, 4/16).
Obama issued a statement 4/16 marking the Virginia Tech anniversary, saying, "One year later, it's also time to reflect on how violence -- whether on campuses like Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University or on the streets of Chicago and cities across this nation -- can be prevented. Clearly, our state and federal governments have to strengthen some laws and do a better job enforcing others. But we all have a responsibility to do what we can in our own lives and communities to end this kind of senseless violence" (release, 4/16).
Does Gumbel Have Game?
Obama appeared on HBO's "Real Sports" 4/15, and allowed the show to videotape him playing a game of pickup basketball. See today's Play of the Day for highlights from the game.
Meanwhile, "at the last minute," ESPN execs "killed a podcast" with Obama slated for 4/11 with host Bill Simmons. A spokesperson for Obama said he's still "happy to appear on ESPN at any time" (New York Daily News, 4/16).
What Have I Done Wrong Today, National Media?
• Washington Post's Gerson writes, Obama's message "is inherently prideful: I understand your bitterness and confusion, but I don't reflect it. You know me. I'm better than that. The problem is: We really don't know Obama very well" (4/16).
• New Republic assist. ed. James Kirchick writes in Politico, "Negating the words of his advisers has become a frequent task in Obama's campaign -- and a telling one." From Austan Goolsbee to Samantha Power to Colin Kahl, the trend may be "illustrative" of a "widening gap between Obama's rhetoric and what he plans to do" as POTUS (4/15).
• Cal Thomas writes of pro-life Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and ex-Rep. Tim Roemer (D-IN) endorsing Obama, "The lust for power and position, apparently, has become so strong that some people are willing to sell not only their own souls, but also the beating hearts and souls of unborn children to the highest political bidder" (Washington Times, 4/16).
Can't Get Much More Small Town Cred Than That
Bruce Springsteen has endorsed Obama, writing on his website, "Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest. ... He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years" (release, 4/16).
This article appears in the April 16, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.