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. Dixie AZ

    Ann, Please tell what Republicans have done in the last 8 years to feed the poor?

    October 29, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Terry

    I plan to watch the 30 minute ad, primarily to get a better understanding of Obama's Healthcare Plan. We have too many people going into Hospital Emergency Rooms for items that could be taken care of at Store Front Clinics. The reason people will not visit these clinics is due to their personal lack of insurance coverage. My healthcare position is simple, take care of children whose parents can not afford healthcare and dental insurance, and take care of the elderly. I believe that everyone on Social Security should receive all prescription medication for free. Before you attack me as a wacko left wing liberal, please understand that I am a fiscal conservative who is prepared to work for either candidate, to help create these basic services within a prudent healthcare plan. It can be done, it must be done. The reason the healthcare insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies do not want these concepts to catch on is quite simple; Corporate Profits. We are breaking the back of the healthcare delivery system by pointing the finger and doctors, hospitals, and other providers. Don't worry, if we continue to do nothing, the problem will go away on it's own, when the healthcare system collapses under it's own weight.

    October 29, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  3. Punish the incumbent party (Republicans)

    CNN, sorry but I won't be watching you at 8:00. I thought you guys were all about ratings? Oh well, CBS it is.

    October 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  4. Wally

    Why do Hollywood types endorse Obama if he is supposedly in bed with the Palestinians and supposedly anti-Jewish?

    Give me a break.

    October 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  5. Turning the page

    We're the Obama small-donation supporters. And we approved this message!

    October 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Kristofer

    If McCain can't beat a socialist, lying, hate-mongering, terroist-sympathizer in the General Election, how is he supposed to be an effecive president? Time to look in the mirror Sen. McCain.

    October 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. Frank G

    Yeah, it's over the top, but these times are too dangerous to leave anything to chance. And 4 years of another Reuplican administrartion led by McCain/Palin is not healthy for this Nation.

    October 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. LeeAnn

    I'm interested in the infomercial but think the timing is bad, as for the comment about a birth certificate, keep up with the news, it was provided ... glad you're so in touch with all that missing information.

    October 29, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. IowaMom

    Why is it when the repubs are for McCain, that's fine all fine and dandy. But when people are for Obama they must be "drinking the kool-aid"?

    October 29, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  10. TangoDancer

    My aggregate donation total to the Obama campaing since the primary season is $1,150 (seven $100 donations, two $200 donations and a final $50 donation). I can't give any more, but I'm very pleased with the manner that the campaign has spent this donated money. Barack isn't buying this election; the American electorate is buying this election. Someone always buys the presidential election. In 2008 the people win this time, the corporations and their lobbyist lose.

    October 29, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  11. susie

    I will watch the weather channel before I watch Obama tonight.

    October 29, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  12. Alabama Voter

    The Republicans are starting to come to want Read Proverbs 22:16
    of your Bible.

    October 29, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. Brian

    Obama is worth every penny. It's refreshing to see a candidate campaign with morals, unlike Sarah Palin and Elizabeth Dole!

    October 29, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  14. The New Civil War has begun (Sons of the Founders vs. The Socialists)

    Yeah, exactly how much of Obama's gahzillian dollar fundraising has actually been from legal and legitimate donors? Foreigners? Nope, can't take their cash. Illegals? Nope, can't take their cash either. Untraceable credit cards from outside of the states? Nope, you can't take that money either.

    Barack Obama... taking illegal money faster than a Cayman bank.

    October 29, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Mark from LA

    To Joe (1:54 p.m.):

    Khalidi is not a "high-ranking PLO leader," he's an educator, and a group chaired by McCain gave Khalidi more than half a million dollars in grants in the late 90's.

    Get your facts straight and stop listening to right-wing radio.

    October 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. yyball

    If my people who are called by my name would humble them selves , seek my face and pray,then we will hear from heaven. Keep on praying God is faithful . God says Be and it is. Obama God got your back continue to open your mouth and let Him fill it stay humble.

    October 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. Gordon

    I wouldn't call Obama "sensible". The presidency was stolen in 2000 and in 2008 it's being bought. McCain and Obama are one in the same. Vote 3rd party. Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney or Bob Barr. Vote 3rd party for a real CHANGE.

    October 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  18. mike

    Charles Atlanta – The "brainwashing" FOX News is airing your hero's infomercial but your "unbiased" Clinton News Network (CNN) is not (could that be why, just sour grapes). Wake up and get your facts straight, your ignorance (and bad grammar) is showing.

    October 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  19. Mavwreck

    canuck October 29th, 2008 1:45 pm ET

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

    mccain 08

    What about McCains promise to run a decent and honorable campaign?

    Obama 08

    October 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. Jeff, Oregon

    I also contributed money to fund the Obama campaign. This is NOT foolish or improper spending as some have claimed here. It's from people who WANT Obama to spread his message, and Prime Time is a good way to do it.

    If I didn't want money to go towards Obama's message, I wouldn't have donated to the campaign!

    October 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Lisa

    After seeing Elizabeth Dole's latest television ad against Kay Hagan, I will never vote for another Republican again....not even for local dog-catcher! It's amazing how hateful and angry the Republicans have become....Is there any decent Republicans out there with any sort of morals?

    October 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. McCNN

    I'm voting for the guy NOT endorsed by the worst president in American history!

    October 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Deb

    I too had never donated money to any campaign but I strongly felt I had to for Senator Obama. We have had too many elections stolen by the republicans. Obama is doing the right thing...don't let them breathe. This is too important an election to give them the slightest window of opportunity.

    October 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Judith of the USA

    I find it quite fascinating that CNN will not televise Obama’s 30 minute speech tonight in order to “continue to report the news”, but will host McCain with time to comment immediately following the speech. I am not sure what this is telling me and the public. However, what I do now know, is that CNN is not the “best political team” but rather the “most biased political team in Amercia” and rather mediocre, at that.

    This 30-minute closing argument speech to the American public is ground-breaking during an historic presidential election; no matter your particular political bent. Ummmmmm….but, I guess it is not “news” on CNN.

    October 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Kelley

    If you have to spend then spend it telling us what your plan is.Unlike McCain Mr.Obama has given us hope that we as a nation can turn this ugly mess that the Republicans have got us into.I will be watching our next president make his case and glad for it.

    October 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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