In Today's Ad Spotlight:
Hillary Rodham Clinton For President: "Crossroads", American Federation Of State, County And Municipal Employees: "My Kids", Hillary Rodham Clinton For President: "Stakes", Bill Richardson For President: "A Way Out", Barack Obama For President: "Leader", Hillary Rodham Clinton For President: "President", Joseph Biden For President: "Office", Joseph Biden For President: "January Night", John Edwards For President: "Bishop"
The only thing the last round of Iowa polling made clear was something the campaigns already knew: The Democratic caucuses are going to be close. Although pundits are free to wonder whether national front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton should have planted her flag in Iowa in the first place, Clinton's campaign has no choice but to compete, releasing an onslaught of new advertising in the week leading up to the caucuses. In addition to releasing a pre-Christmas holiday ad in Iowa and a New Year's Web video, the New York senator has flooded the state's already saturated airwaves with ads addressing the housing crisis and her commitment to change. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which endorsed Clinton in October, has continued to issue new ads urging voters in the Hawkeye State to caucus for Clinton.
But those buys seem small in comparison to Clinton's closing argument: a two-minute appeal airing on every TV market in Iowa tonight during early evening newscasts. Taking a page from John Edwards' paid response to President Bush's Sept. 13 Iraq speech, the spot features a static shot of Clinton speaking directly into the camera as she lays out her final argument: that only she is "ready to be president" and confront the challenges facing America from her first day in office.
Clinton describes America in the new year as being "at a crossroads" and ready for "a new beginning" after seven years of the Bush administration. Only she will be able to bring about change and truly address the country's problems, Clinton argues, continuing her campaign's efforts to wrest the narrative of "change" from her nearest competitors, Edwards and Barack Obama.
At the very beginning of the ad and again at the end, Clinton hammers on her readiness to lead the country "on Day One." The "Day One" argument has become something of a touchstone for Clinton in recent weeks, and it's of a piece with her longtime strategy of presenting herself as the inevitable nominee. there than any of his rivals -- over 100 days since the 2004 election. A loss there could mean the end for Edwards, as he lags far behind Clinton and Obama in other early primary state polling.
Obama has also purchased two minutes of airtime on Iowa TV stations Wednesday evening in order to deliver a "special message" to viewers. In the address, titled "Leader," the Illinois senator plays up his résumé, stating that "I've spent my life working for change that has made a real difference in the lives of real people." Obama tells viewers that he can take the country in a "fundamentally new direction," and closes by adding: "I will carry your voices to the White House and I will fight for you every day I am there. So I ask you to caucus tomorrow. Not just for me but for your hopes, for your dreams, for the America you believe is possible."
Flipping Over The Kitchen Table While their big-name opponents seem content to talk about kitchen-table economic issues, Joseph Biden and Bill Richardson want to remind voters there's a war on. Betting that their foreign policy experience will win them the support of Democrats concerned about Iraq, both candidates released new ads in the last weeks of 2007 that they hope will put the spotlight back overseas, and back on them.
Richardson's spot explains how he would withdraw troops immediately from Iraq, and shows images of the New Mexico governor meeting with foreign leaders, including Saddam Hussein. Both of Biden's ads strike similar themes, with one spot arguing that his decades of foreign policy experience have prepared him for the challenges the next president will have to face. The other ad lays out his qualifications for leadership more anatomically, praising him for possessing a "steady hand, a steel spine, a cool head, an honest heart."