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. Patrice - Birmingham, Al

    I Think this is an excellent idea!!! I will watch the 30 min. infomercial proudly. Im a Obama supporter and feel he has ran a excellent campaign. Go tell that!!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 29, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  2. Karl

    When you run a positive campaign, while your opponents continually trash you; when you connect to the people when your opponent attempts to divide the people; when you identify and address the concerns of people and refrain from gimmicks...the people will respond favorably. This is the case here. The people responded and volunteered time and effort, and more importantly with their donation. The results: the ability to lay out your plans for the future. But, it also show the organizational skills. Sen. Obama ran a campaign that many will study over and over again. McCain ran the campaign that many now fear.

    My concerns center on Campbell Brown's "No Bias, No Bull" commentary segment. I see a very BIAS person. It's amazing that some months ago, the issue of Obama fore-going public financing against a promise was hashed, rehashed, and found baseless. We know that Brown came from FOX News and some of their tenents remains with her. Fine. Just be honest with your commentary. It's WRONG. It's full of BIAS and all BULL. Sounds like Fair and Balanced. NOT!

    October 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. scottymac

    Vote for Obama! Look what has happened to us since Bush took office. Which was not our choice. Remember, Bush is the one that stopped the recount. He paid people off to make them stop recounting so he could say he won. Look at what the liar has done to us in the last 8 years. Look at all the reserves we have but are not allowed to use because he wants us to buy from other countries. How much money has he made from Enron? Something else that made America look foolish. Close your eyes when you listen to McCain and you can hear Bush's voice. Sounds to me like we would end up with another Bush. I tell everyone I know to vote for OBAMA. Lets not let the Bush camp stop the counting again. Lets make it a landslide so Bush can't say McBush won again. Investigate everything you can and be informed and vote. Make a smart choice. VOTE VOTE VOTE YOU CAN NOT COMPLAIN IF YOU DON'T VOTE! The best choice is for Obama. If it doesn't work out we can still get him out. They call it impeach. I intend to vote for Obama and so does my family. GO GO GO OBAMA

    October 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. p Coleman

    This election has gone beyond ridiculous.

    The American people have lost it, they have thrown everything under the bus and everyone.

    Never thought I would see another President candidate more arrogant than George W. but guess I was wrong.

    I am a democrat and believe in most of their positions, but I will set this one out there is only 1 candidate worth voting for and that is Joe Biden. The policies are OK, but you need someone that really cares about the country to implement them and we do not have anyone left in this election to do that.

    I hope all the hateful people in this country (did not realize there were so many) are happy after NOv. 4

    October 29, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  5. Griff

    Sermon On the Mount??

    October 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Common Sense

    I can't believe that you Republicans have the gall to open your mouth about anything! You collectively drove this country off a cliff for the last 2 elections, now you want people to listen to YOU? Your lack of good judgement couldn't be more evident. If you feel comfortable with McCain's choice for Vice President than that shows that in the last 8 years you've gotten even dumber. The ironic thing is that most of you self proclaimed Republicans are working stiffs like the rest of us. The Republicans policies are geared to people and business that are way above your income. Look at whats happened to our country, don't you feel ANY responsibility for who you put into office? When a leader doesn't do their job it's one and done. When in doubt boot em out!

    October 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Ready For A True Change

    It's good to know that the money that I gladly donated to Obama's campaign is being put to good use. And I will be watching tonight.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 29, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. D

    So McCain camp throws the kitchen sink, the bathtub, the toilet, and the copper plumbing at Barack for months. Barack flex's his muscle and he gets scolded for it by the republicans. Interesting indeed. Sounds like a bunch of bullies have gotten punched inthe mouth by the guy who dared stand up to them. What a relief that the bully (RNC) has been figured out!

    October 29, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. GDWJR

    hurriCAIN PALIN, your comment about Obama brainwashing/hypnotizing millions of simple minded Americans vote for him is completely erroneous. Let me hold a three minute conversation with you and see how "simple minded" this Obama supporter is, when I expose how pathetic your political knowledge is.

    October 29, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Landa

    I am very disappointed that CNN is not airing th 30 minute obama ad show tonight. I will not be watching cnn tonight or in the future. I will turn my support to msnbc. All of the shows on CNN is a repeat, they all talk about the same thing over and over again. CNN really need to get rid of Lou Dobbs, I never turn my channel to cnn during that time slot. Maybe they can give Jack Cafferty a show during that time slot.

    October 29, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. Independent in NC

    A 30 minute ad is a huge turnoff to me. I see at least three political ads in a row every commercial break, I don't need to see anything else. I suspect other independents feel the same way.

    October 29, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Tha Beast

    yes i think its a good idea

    October 29, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. Candid

    Peole have donated money for Obama campaign; Obama has to use it for the campaign purpose; he cannot use it for something else.

    October 29, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. The BOTTOM Line..........



    October 29, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. Jerome

    My fellow Americans, from the country of the United States, please please for the sanity of the entire world....please

    ELECT Barack Obama as your next President.

    The world cannot afford the destructive and self centered policies of the Republicans and their totally incompetent leader W anymore.

    The world has been brought to its knees by this charlatan and a fix is going to take many years. To put this responsibility on a hot tempered maverick and his sidekick Caribou Suzy would be the gravest of errors.

    There is only one person who has brains and ability to possibly change this direction and that is Obama. The task ahead is going to be rough and challenging even for the best. But at least with Obama there is a semblnce of hope.

    Please do not make the same mistake, as happened with W, by electing the Mavericks....for the good of the world. 80 % of the world cannot be wrong in their support of OBAMA.

    Please don't let the world down !

    Your northern neigbour whose PM had the courage to stand against W and not participate in the war in Iraq.

    October 29, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |

    $1,335.00 and counting was my money.

    And I approve this ad!

    October 29, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  17. Dan, TX

    I gave Obama the money to run the ad tonight. That's my candidate! And when he's elected I expect to get my special interest agenda fulfilled. GET US OUT OF IRAQ!

    October 29, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  18. S W from Calhoun, La

    Ben Laden is brilliant. He has accomplished his goal of 9 11. Our military is based in his land, as he puts who he wants in our oval office. How else could Obama set the record for the highest contributions ever, at a time when our economy, is at it's record "low". Americans if you blindly put this man in office without finding out who his main contributor/contributors are, then you deserve what he mandates out. Because this contributor is the person/persons, that's really pulling the strings in that executive seat. The real power seat is Congress, and those positions need to be re-elected after a period of time as well. So those who take those seats diligently do their jobs to the best of their abilitiy, so as not to fear replacement. McCain is very aware of what is happening and blundering in his panic as to who is blinded by this eloquent speaker and that is all that he is good at. Talking. I want our foreign leaders to be afraid of who is sitting in that seat, not a man who has been bought or paid for. You guys remind me of sports fanatics just going along for who looks like they winning just to be called winners.

    October 29, 2008 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  19. Stan

    I would love to hear Obama detail would he will do with the tax hike on those people making over $250k per year. As I undersstand it, those individuals/families would see their tax rate increase from 36% back to 39% – where it was under Clinton. That is a 3% increase for the wealthiest Americans. For Paris Hilton, that increase would be about $211k based on either last year or year before income of $7M. Now, Paris Hilton is a small bsuiness owner. I really don't see her cutting jobs because of a $200k tax increase. I don;t even see her getting rid of her Bentley Continental convertible. I wish I lived in a place where the wealthy felt responsible to share part of their wealth with those less fortunate. So what I want to hear from Obama is what is that lump sum increase and how is he planning on spending it? Is it going to schools, healthcare, etc?

    October 29, 2008 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  20. Oh! The Irony

    mike October 29th, 2008 1:52 pm ET

    As an independent voter, I find it troubling that either candidate would spend $4M for an infomercial. It appears that Obama has money to burn. Obama's $600M campaign spending equals the combined total of Bush and Kerry in 2004–this is troubling.

    Why is it troubling? Inspiring many thousands of Americans to support a cuase is troubling? Unifying many people from different backgrounds to the same cause is troubling? I call it the inspiration of a leader.

    October 29, 2008 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  21. Adam

    Obama is the first presidential hopeful that has ever affirmed to me that the great America we were taught of as children can and will exist. It is exactly his Socialist re:Marxist tendencies that give me hope and will lead the people of this country to greater happiness and prosperity. I see no cynicism or deception in his eyes, nor do I hear hatred or lies in his voice. He represents all we strive for not as Americans, but as human beings.

    October 29, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. Jeb

    For Sale: America Price: 600 million October 29th, 2008 2:08 pm ET

    I just went around my office 200 + employees and NOT ONE person is planning on watching tonights infocommercial.


    Good luck finding another job when you're fired for injecting politics into the working enviornment.

    October 29, 2008 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  23. mike

    To MB – you say the ones that say they are not watching are the ones that should. Why, aren't we just being "Racist" and "Ignorant Haters" anyway. The Presidentcy is for sale!!!!!!!!!!! But then again it always has been.

    October 29, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. joe

    His 30 minutes on TV tonight is simply a testement to not keeping his word on Campaign finance. When it suits Obama he will simply break his word. If he gets elected this will only be the beginning of his false promises. Hopefully he will be defeated on Nov 4th but if not he will be a one termer. I am already looking forward to 2010. There is no doubt in my mind that the Democrats will lose contol of the Senate and will have a much smaller majority in the house. In 2012 the GOP will be completely back and this time I am certain they will govern from principle. For all those who think the GOP is dead the same pundits were declaring the Democratic Party dead after the GOP took control of all of the three

    October 29, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  25. Georgia for Obama

    I cant wait to watch it I am so happy for Obama letting American people know what he going to do to make people lives better..

    McCain/Palin is jealous of Obama/Biden....Palin is maken McCain lose this election so she can run in 2012 the republican party need to be kick out of the country

    October 29, 2008 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
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