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. Fernanda

    My mind is made up. This won't change anything for me but I hope clears any doubt among the undecided. I can't wait to watch his ad.

    October 29, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Lilly

    No good here, already voted McCain!

    October 29, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. KLEE

    I will be watching – haven't voted – must wait until election day! I want to see more than sound bites.....have looked a lot on line to discover about all candidates – good info on the CNN election tracker under the issues banner – I keep thinking that the GOP has been in charge mostly 6 of the last 8 years and look where we are....no real explanations coming through that the basic American voter can really understand – or indeed wants to! Mostly it relates to the cost of a gallon of gas, the price of bread & milk, and a job or living income! doesn't it!!

    October 29, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. HOCK

    From a Canadian point of view....Obama is your man. He even created more interest during the Canadian elections and would have won here easily.

    I did see a comment on TV (not sure of station)......SARAH PALIN IS JUST A 72 YEAR OLD HEART BEAT AWAY FROM BEING THE PRESIDENT OF THE US.......

    October 29, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Lilly

    No good here, already voted McCain!

    October 29, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. sarahinfla

    So the days of the Republican party spending big bucks has seen some changes over the years. They are not willing to put up the money for this flawed candidate. they are to busy hording money and screwing everyone else over. Maybe McCain can redirect it from his non-profit that gets millions of tax payer dollars the (IRI) he chairs. And yes we know about the (NDI) the difference is Sen. Obama is not the chairman of the board.

    With groups like these and the types of individuals on this board International Republican Institute it's no wonder the U.S. is disliked in many places in the world.

    October 29, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. UCLAdy04

    I think it is great that Obama is getting the chance to do this. Obama socred a lot of points in the debates, but unfortunately John McCain was there to lie through his teeth about every single stance and policy Obama has. Now this will be an unfiltered look at what Obama is proposing straight from the source. With McCain and Palin out there calling him socialist every chance they get, Obama needs to combat their smears in a forceful way. To the people mad that Obama raised the money to do this...don't hate the player hate the game!

    October 29, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. Krystyn

    I have heard repeatedly that the game will NOT be pushed back, only their pre-game show will be pre-empted.

    Also, Alex Conant is an idiot. This is a CONTINUATION of Game 5, and it will begin mid-game, so the "first pitch" nonsense, is just that.


    October 29, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. 08 Voter

    Considering the amount of money Obama has spent, you'd think he'd be further ahead. Going on TV and forcing your ideas, is poor campaigning. He must feel threatened. Didn't his 'closing comments' seal the deal? Why spend this money? Oh, there's a lot of votes still needed...

    October 29, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. Kish from Britain



    October 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |



    October 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Independent in DC

    No matter how you feel about Obama, one must agree he has ran the most impressive and efficient campaign in modern politics without question.

    October 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Mari

    I have been so impressed with Obama's campaign-I have never donated money before either, but have made two contributions. I feel like he is in the Presidential race for the right reasons concerning America and her well being. I feel comfortable with his lead in the polls, but uneasy when I remember how the repubs stole the presidency from Gore. America needs to get on the right track again and be the prosperous nation we used to be-Obama/Biden are our men!!!

    October 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Greg

    It's just propaganda, he is going to be telling us lies for 30 minutes, the sad part is that this country is brainwashed and and they are buying his crap hook, line an sinker.

    October 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  15. Annette

    Way to Go Obama/Biden 08!

    October 29, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Liberated!

    ....and that's why we donate to his campaign, so he will have enough money to combat the negative, immature campaign of his opponent. Money well spent....can't wait to see it! Go Obama.

    October 29, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  17. Let's be reasonable

    I've been following this election closely and I've come to the conclusion that it would be very foolhardy for Democrats to underestimate Palin as, I might point out, they did Bush. People can scoff at her cringeworhty responses to legit questions, but she has determination, a certain down home charisma, and an ability to identify and rally her base that McCain, with all his experience, doesn't seem to have. She is a wedge issue on two legs, and she and her supporters, I'm quite sure, wouldn't have it any other way.

    Respect your foes or perish....

    October 29, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  18. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    It may also show desperation to seal the deal-and a lot of donations....even from other nations.

    October 29, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Donny

    Solid, Solid as Barackkkkkkk.

    October 29, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  20. J-Tyme

    Let's put the nail in the coffin Obama!!! You've come a long way and now it's time to seal the deal. Show everyone again how sharp you are. We know you've got it baby!

    October 29, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  21. Chris from NY

    We paid for it. So, what's the problem? I made my contribution to his campaign so he could run a good campaign. Win, lose or draw he has run a good campaign. And I am proud of him and what he's been able to do.

    October 29, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  22. Connie from Indiana

    It is a shame that CNN refused to sell Obama 30 minutes, so much for the fair and balanced news. I just wish Jack Cafferty and David Gergen would move to MSNBC then I would not have to watch CNN at all. I will watch it on MSNBC and listen to Chris and Keith. Thanks. VOTE EARLY, VOTE OBAMA/BIDEN Connie

    October 29, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  23. Jennifer McGarrity

    barrack obama thinks he is an actor and a superstar. johm mccain's ad was right on the money that he is seen in the likes of brittany spears and other celebrities. i want to watch the world series on time i am from philly and we should not have to wait for it to begin due to the arrogance of obama. we got your message spread the wealth. what wealth we will be broke with all your socialist views. spread your campaign contributions around how about that. GO PHILLIES!!!!!!!!


    October 29, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  24. liz

    Sports is for an escape from politics and our daily responsibility! the last thing we want to hear is someone to talk about how bad the economy is, why he is a good choice for president, negative outbursts on Pallin and McCain and any thing else he shouts about!!!

    This is messed up!!!!!!

    Thanks for trying to ruin my game night!!!

    I cant stand Obama supporters~

    October 29, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  25. Joan , Ontario

    This highly anticipated TV spot was a brilliant idea. It's too bad CNN didn't recognize this as most other networks have. It is news so it should have been shown on CNN. Maybe they want to be able to cover it by their pundits for free. They are giving McCain a free hour of coverage on the Larry King Live Show tonight. Go figure.

    October 29, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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