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. Republicans for Obama

    Kathy From La,

    One of the reason McCain and Palin are loosing this race is because they are so fortunate to have supporters like you. Thank you.

    October 29, 2008 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. Sean

    I am convinced on an Obama victory, but, is this expense necessary? wouldn't this money he's loosely spending in advertising help a lot of people who are needing financial help right now? wouldn't this money help people in his own party that want to gain control of congress so he can accomplish what he wants to accomplish? Go ahead and throw the "greater cause" excuses back at me but that's exactly what I've been hearing for the past 8 years so I'm immune to the rhetoric.

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

    cal- 'intelluct" we got. It's INTELLECT we need.

    October 29, 2008 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  4. Pat

    I am one of the persons that have donated money to the Obama campaign and this 30 minute ad is exactly the kind of thing I expect Senator Obama to use my money for. Spending all of the donated money on winning this election. Well ! What a novel idea, I thought that was what it was all about, and why I donated the money in the first place, to help him win this election. If Senator Obama uses our taxes, as wisely as he has used our donations, we could be on our way to paying off our national debt by the end of his second term in office. Anyone who thinks this has been foolish spending probably didn't donate any money to this worthy cause.
    Obama for President 08

    October 29, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  5. maurice

    i just took 600 million from these idiots. i cant wait to be barrack the king obama /president. i`ll get all their money and give it to my radical terreorist buddies... oh yaaa i cant wait. this message has yet to be approved. im waiting for nov 4th.thank you for the support. barry osama

    October 29, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. Keith

    I'm sorry, but as a Canadian I'm SHOCKED at how Mickey Mouse the US voting system appears. I voted for our Prime Minister and it took 3 minutes (like always) with a simple paper ballot and a disabled voter ahead of me.

    A democracy is judged by the fairness, accessibility and transparency of the voting process.

    What a joke. Sad sad sad. Please Mr. Obama (if your lead can overcome the built-in voting irregularities) streamline and repair this disgusting spectacle as one of your first official acts.

    And if Americans really love democracy, they should protect it by voting for Obama in numbers so overwhelming that the election can't be stolen again this year.

    October 29, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. Electra

    Only ignorant Americans would say Obama's ad is egotisical! What a joke! Obama wants the public to know what he will do if he was president, to help people decide whether he is right for them or not. What the hell is wrong with that? I'd be saying the same if it were McCain doing the ad. Instead of all the smears, lies and hate he just wants to lay down his mandate straight to the people, makes a refreshing change. Only America would mock intelligence and honest talk as egoistical and narcissistic no wonder you are the laughing stock of the world, after all in any other country, Dubya and Palin would be serving fries.

    October 29, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. harry

    this is better than spending 150,000 on designers cloth.

    go on obama.they are jealous

    October 29, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. harry

    it is good to use the 30 mintues to put the record straight. since Mccains lies

    October 29, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Canadian for Obama

    It's true McCain IS jealous that he didn't think of this, BUT I also don't think he would have come up with the idea even if he had the money. He's had no new during this whole campaign. He just keeps spewing the same, old, failed Republican crap. Please! Can they come up with an idea other than decreased taxes??

    Obama, on the other hand, has run a brilliant, well thought-out campaign, complete with the last week of closing statements and a 30 min. infomercial that I think will just solidify his Presidential qualities and ideas. This is intelligence. This is the kind of person who deserves to be in the White House (i.e. not some guy who you'd like to have a beer with!!!).

    Go Obama/Biden! I'm praying for a big, beautiful election win on Tuesday!!

    October 29, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Rick

    The ad is no more than the physical evidence of a broken promise (opting out of public financing after pledging not to). Just the 1st of many to be sure. It will be fun to count and hold him accountable.

    October 29, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  12. COforO

    Obama will present himself to a national audience, and I am sure that he will ask again for our votes. His positive and uplifting message, filled with promise and a change for our future, will be well received. He has surrounded himself with good and intelligent people who will lead our nation out of the desperate hole the party of Bush, Cheney, McCain, (Phil) Graham, and Palin, have dug us in to. Obama funded his campaign with donations from people of all walks of life. United we stand includes all political affiliations and all people – even those members from the base of the Republican Christian right, who have expressed such hatred over the course of the past almost two years – and an Obama presidency will be uplifting for our entire nation. Remember when Focus on the Family had members pray for rain on the night of Obama's acceptance speech at the outdoor venue of INVESCO Field in Denver? How ironic was it on the night of the Republican convention that a hurricane swept through our nation? Perhaps there is something prophetic here.

    October 29, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  13. BeauMan

    Why would Obama spend that kind of money on CNN when he's been getting the liberal media gifts from them for free this whole time? If this much money was being spent needlessly by a Republican, can anyone even imagine the hell that would come down by this group of incompetent liberals!

    October 29, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  14. Lindsay

    I'm sorry – the dumbing down of America? Aren't we the great bunch of idiots who elected "Dubya" TWICE?!

    October 29, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. DC in AZ

    By the way the World Series Game won't be delayed....they are just going to skip the pregame telecast.

    As if a baseball game was more important the the fate of our nation anyway.

    October 29, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  16. Block the Vote 08

    YET ANOTHER DAY MCAIN DOES NOT TALK ABOUT THE ECONOMY!!!!!! Instead its Obama is a terrorist….Democrats are Godless…Obama is a Communist….Democrats are Anti-American….Obama is a Socialist….Obama supporters are Brainwashed….Obama is a Murderer….Democrats are Evil….There is a "Real America" and a "Fake America"….I Know I Am But What Are You?….Cootie Shot….Nah Nah Nah Boo Boo….Waaaaah!

    NOTE TO VOTERS: If, in the last few days before an election, you learn that a candidate used to play poker with Satan on the weekends, or that he/she voted 200 times against puppies flowers and rainbows – IT'S A LIE! There is a reason this crap only comes out at the absolute last minute….

    SSDD, My friends. Had enough of the kindergarten nostalgia yet? VOTE FOR THE GROWNUPS! Obama/Biden/Straight Dem Ticket. My first straight ticket EVER

    October 29, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  17. MLD ND

    Glad to have contributed to Obama and happy he can have the opportunity to set the record straight. The Repubs have lied about his record, his relationships and vision for our great country.

    October 29, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  18. Stone Harry

    This is historically absurd!

    October 29, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  19. Shawn, Kansas City MO

    The republicans screaming Obama is a terrorist and a socialist are the same ones who would vote for Bush again in a heart beat, even given his track record. Lets face it, the republicans have lost a bit of credibility due to the current administration and their continued support of his policies.

    It's a bit like a convicted burglar trying to convince you that he would be better suited to house-sit for you while you are out of town as opposed to some Harvard-educated guy.

    Obama has surrounded himself with some of the smartest economic advisors in the country, including several of Bill Clinton's. The fact is, during the '90's, we experienced the longest stretch of economic growth in the countries history. If those policies were considered "socialism", sign me up.

    McCain is losing because he has continued to make his campaign about small things and personality, while Obama has made his campaign about big things like the economy, healtchare and energy. The Karl Rove area is certainly dead after this election, McCain himself putting the last nail in the coffin.

    October 29, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  20. George in Indianapolis

    Part of the informercial was paid for by George in Indianapolis for Obama. And I approve of this message

    October 29, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  21. West Virginia for Obama

    I, for one, am eager to hear Obama's comments. And I am very disappointed in CNN for not running this 30-minute ad. I have been an avid CNN fan since the network was in its infant state in the early 90s. No more. I have now superglued my channel to MSNBC.

    Obama/Biden 2008
    For our children's future.

    October 29, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  22. Mimi60

    If Obama has money to burn why doesn't he 'SPREAD THE WEALTH'???!!! Oh, excuse me, that would be HIS money...the money he wants to spread would belong to you and me!! NO THANKS!!!

    October 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  23. Shawn, Kansas City MO

    Oh, and to those saying how unfair it is that Obama is outspending McCain, it is interesting to note that the Republican candidate has outspent the Democratic candidate in every election in recent history. I don't recall any republican claiming it was unfair then, why is it unfair now?

    October 29, 2008 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  24. Bill

    For anyone still griping about Obama having an "unfair advantage" because he didn't opt-in to public campaign financing: American citizens should be thankful. Public financing requires tax payers to fund the candidate without their approval. Obama's campaign was financed by small contributions from millions of supporters. That's what happens when tax payers can choose to fund a campaign. McCain, on the other hand, took my tax dollars without my permission. I didn't get a receipt – can I get a refund anyway?

    October 29, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  25. REG in AZ

    Finally, after 2000 and 2004, we have a candidate that can fight the Republican machine on its own grounds. It would really be nice if we could ever get money out of politics, encourage more political parties to get involved, have the candidates sincerely focus on issues important to the majority of people (instead of just on who supplies the money) and be honest in what they present (instead of offering subterfuge and then focusing on Special Interests). In the mean time, it is nice to see someone truly able to compete based mainly on small donations from average people and give his loyalty to them.

    October 29, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
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