October 29th, 2008
11:32 AM ET
10 years ago

30-minute Obama ad shows campaign muscle as Election Day nears

Obama's 30-minute ad will air tonight on broadcast and cable networks.

Obama's 30-minute ad will air tonight on broadcast and cable networks.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama plans to run a 30-minute television ad
simultaneously across almost all the broadcast and cable networks Wednesday
night - a "muscle flex" that has little precedent in modern politics, campaign
advertising expert Evan Tracey said.

"It's evidence, if you needed any, that the Obama campaign has more money
than there is ad time left to buy," said Tracey, director of the Campaign Media
Analysis Group (CMAG).

Tracey estimates that it will probably cost the campaign "in the $4-5
million range - at a minimum, $3.5 million."

But, he said, spending the money is a "no-brainer" for the Democratic presidential hopeful.

"The strategic brilliance of this for Obama is that he is going to
consume about 24 hours of the news cycle," Tracey said. "It boxes McCain in,
takes the oxygen out of the room."

There is so much buzz surrounding the infomercial - which was first
announced about two weeks ago - that Time magazine's Mark Halperin Tuesday put
the ad's two editors on his daily list of the "five most important people in
American politics not running for president."

Those editors, Erik Smith and Mark Putnam, were "still in an edit room
cutting" the 30-minute piece on Tuesday when the list was published, Halperin

The ad is slated to run at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, NBC, MSNBC, Fox, BET, TV One
and Univision, the Spanish-language network.

CNN declined to run the spot, and talks between ABC and the Obama campaign fell apart.

"We were approached by the Obama campaign and declined their request," said Sal Petruzzi, senior vice president for public relations of Turner Broadcasting, CNN's parent company. "We did not want to pre-empt our programming lineup with a 30-minute spot. We would rather use our air to continue to cover the campaign, candidates and issues like we always do from
all points of view with the best political team on television."

An ABC spokeswoman declined to comment about the network's talks with the
Obama campaign.

"As a matter of policy we don't comment about clients with whom we are
doing business," said Julie Hoover of ABC. The Obama campaign has bought advertising on ABC in the past, she said, "but they did not buy the half hour."

Obama is taping an interview Wednesday with ABC's Charles Gibson, which is due to run Thursday, his campaign said.

A source familiar with ABC policy suggested the network had offered the Obama campaign a different time slot.

"Hypothetically we would have offered them equivalent time," the source said. "We don't have to give them the exact slot they are asking for."

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said ABC had ultimately offered Obama the slot he wanted, but the campaign turned it down.

"By the time they agreed we had already committed our resources," Burton said.

The Obama campaign reported last week that it had raised a record-shattering $150 million in the month of September.

Obama has outspent McCain by a huge margin, according to CNN's consultant on ad spending.

Between the time the two candidates clinched their party's nominations in the spring and October 25, Obama spent more than $205 million on TV ads. McCain spent more than $119 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group.

The McCain campaign launched an ad Wednesday attacking Obama for his
30-minute special, saying: "Behind the fancy speeches, grand promises and TV
special, lies the truth: With crises at home and abroad, Barack Obama lacks the
experience America needs."

And the Republican National Committee blasted the timing of the ad, which
pushed back the start of a World Series baseball game by 15 minutes.

"It's unfortunate that the World Series' first pitch is being delayed for
Obama's political pitch. Not only is Obama putting politics before principle,
he's putting it before our national pastime," RNC spokesman Alex Conant said.

"To accommodate a half-hour Obama time buy on Fox on October 29, Major
League Baseball... agreed to move the start time of Game 6 by about 15
minutes," a Fox spokesman said. Wednesday night's game is in fact Game 5, due
to a rain delay.

MLB's willingness to delay the fall classic for a political ad shows how
very unusual the Obama TV spot is.

"Ross Perot did it in 1992, but it wasn't this close to Election Day, and
now you have a very different media consumption environment. You didn't have
the cable then," CMAG's Tracey said. "There is no precedent for this sort of an
ad this late in the race."

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (431 Responses)
  1. IowaMom

    My family will be tuning in. I've already cast my vote but even my kids have been very interested in this campaign.


    October 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. msnado

    CNN goodbye because of this you will NOT get me to pitch in for your ratings. See Ya.

    October 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. Obama No Doubt!

    This is an excellent move by the Obama campaign. News, tidbits, and critiques of this ad will consume one more precious news cycle and that's just what we need. I'm confident Obama will do this right and he will not be over the top.

    Now, to those that cry at the fact that Obama has the money to do this... if McCain had the money to do so, he would be doing it too! This is America and we're a capitalistic society. If you've got the money, you're free to spend it how you please. If you don't have the money, well maybe that means you didn't do a good job fundraising.

    Those that are crying about this ad are the true socialists!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Hardworking American for McCain

    Kathy; wake up. $63 million came from terrorist, Iran and Iraq. Also this past increase in gas prices is how this $63 million was funded.

    October 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. Andrea

    Brilliant idea President Obama!

    October 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Erika


    October 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Laurie

    The only reason he has that money is because he LIED. Do you really want a LIAR in the White House? Are you people stupid or what?

    October 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. howl with Fries

    A little flexing under fire is tolerable – dare I say, even preferable to sitting on one's hands.
    John McCain and Palin are hopeless when compared to Obama. He will win hands down. Enlightenment trumps shallow entertainment every time.
    I must also add your moderation process is equally hopeless. Please explain.

    October 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. Vegas Barbie for Obama

    Why do the pundits never miss a shot to say that Obama is "outspending" McCain on ad and airtime buys...my husband says that makes it sound as if Obama has to "buy" his way into the presidency. I am quick to point out that it's just a sign of how much more support Obama has than McCain. We donate twice a week usually and not big donations, but figure if a million people give a buck even, that's a million dollars! That said, we certainly plan to watch Obama's 30-minute spot this evening, even though we have both already early-voted for the Obama/Biden ticket for REAL CHANGE!! YES WE CAN!

    October 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |



    October 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. abbey

    i thnik the FED should start to probe McCain to see if he has not exceeded the spending limited he is authoritied to spend in a day, you know he is using the tax payers money to campaign.

    October 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  12. Barack for President

    This is why I donated money to the campaign. I want to use every resource available for Barack Obama to be the next President.

    Good Job Barack

    Yall just hating because John McCain and THAT LADY cant afford it.

    Barack Obama/Joe Biden

    October 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. Dave

    The thing I fear the most about this, will it be too much, and will the people be turn off.

    October 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Ann

    Barack the Spender. Maybe you could feed the poor with this money Obama. 4 millions to see your face for 30 minutes?

    October 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Kimmie

    All I want to say is go Obama and Biden. McCain and Palin have been unfair in repeating things about you and seem to have lost focus on the whole election. It is time that you fight back and at least you are putting out facts. Thank you for maintaining the image that we all Love and admire about you, Senator and Good Luck on Tuesday!! The networks are killing me with there obvios pics.Oh and as for Kathy, you may want to rethink the stupid issue, your comment above proves that you are the stupid one. Think about while you are on the bench tonight and then think about where Obama is and will be by this time next year. Whether he wins or loses, he want be on the bench doing idiotic thinking. God Bless You!!

    October 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Pauline

    Blessing of Lord is unlimited. Obama, you are chosen by Lord. Let God be your television. God bless america and let your will accomplishs in this country

    October 29, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  17. eddie

    All the money Obama can't account as to where it came from??? How much forgein money to buy this election?? What happen at the closed doors with questionable head of states and the so called presidents of these countries???? Obama changes his tune or mind so many times since the start of the campaign....Talks big about spreading the wealth, yet spend millions to show his face on TV. Talks about everyone doing Free Charity work and giving more, yet spends millions on him self...socialist is Obama...He lied to Chicago voters about staying in congress when he was voted in, How many more lies has he told??? He is buying welfare votes with the promise of spreading the wealth???? Is he treating african-americans with respect or the persons who don't have jobs by playing the race card and on others misfortune???? Think of the promises and how they are kept.

    October 29, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Patrice, CT

    I plan on boycotting CNN from now on. After the election, I'm returning to watching my favorite shows or reading more anyway. What a BIG MISTAKE not to air Obama's 30-minute spot tonight. Campbell Brown's reporting has turned me off from watching CNN at 8:00pm anyway...enjoy watching Oberman on MSNBC.

    October 29, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  19. canuck

    it could back fire and his broken promise about public campaign financing shows that he is just another politian.

    mccain 08

    October 29, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  20. wonderful

    It is about time!! Brilliant strategy. Who wouldn't want a SENSIBLE President in the White House for a change. Now we can hold up our heads when we travel overseas and be really proud of our country. God bless the Obama/Biden ticket.

    October 29, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  21. single mom

    Not interested and not going to watch. I've checked both candidates' websites, fact checked what they've said, and figure they'll keep MAYBE 5% of their promises no matter who wins.

    And for the one who rattled off historic events here are two more that happened on November 4.
    1979 – hostage taking in Tehran, Iran
    1980 – Reagan elected in a landslide.
    Twenty-eight years later, November 4, 2008 should indeed be added to the history books.

    October 29, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  22. AJ

    I would be really interested to see an in depth investigation of Obama fund raising. My guess is that it would show more crooked deals ala Rezko.

    October 29, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  23. Pillar Strength in Missouri

    I appreciate CNN running their programing around every part of this election. I continuously listen to their coverage while I'm working and when I'm home at night. I've heard both campaigns. Many do not take the time to listen to either party talk, and would rather take the word of those who want to cause havoc , anger, and fear among the American people. I've listened to MCain and Palin distort the facts every day. They like to take clips and tell a story about a sentence, without telling people the whole paragraph where that sentence came from and what it really means. The make their own story up about it.

    As for Palin being a Christian, I'm a Christian, too, and the difference between us is I hate liars. her sentences are out of context and are distorted. She must read a different Bible than I do.

    I eventually found that there are smart Americans and there are not so smart ones with one thing on their mind. Anger and Hate. The smart ones choose intelligence, like all those intellectuals Barack Obama surrounds himself with. I am proud to vote on election day for intelligence, and I am glad that there are so many out there who vote for that too, and not being swayed by ignorance.

    October 29, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  24. LT for Obama

    I find it funny that so many call Obama a liar and a cheat. Let's see, he uses McCain's own words against him in his ads with footage of McCain saying the words, but Obama is the liar.

    Repubs are suppressing voters left and right but Obama is the cheat. Such hypocrisy running throughout the supporters of McCain.

    I understand you McCain supporters are pissed because your candidate's campaign is imploding around him, but don't blame Obama for that.

    October 29, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. @Olivia

    Sorry, ma'am. But your candidates are more socialists than Obama.
    Obama is only tweaking the progressive tax code which we've had since you were born.
    Palin is talking about collectively owning the resources in Alaska and then sharing the profits - that, Olivia, IS socialism. Fact. You may not like it, but Palin said it in an interview with New Yorker.
    I'm sure you'd vote for Putin if he was on the Republican ticket, you seem blinded by loyalty. Too bad you'll be on the losing side, independents and moderate republicans are not voting Republican this time. GOP needs to go back to the drawing board.

    October 29, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
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