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. mike

    Who wants to watch yet another infomercial. This will only show us that Obama has more money than brain cells. Which, by the way, actually DOES make him eminently qualified to be in the White House. Why anyone, including the candidates think that ANY President can do ANYTHING without the other 2 branches of goernment, is beyond me. We might as well have a Queen for all the good the President can do by him/herself.

    October 29, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. proud american

    hopefully the undecideds will see that Barack is THE ONLY CHOICE

    October 29, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. andrew

    OBAMA takes all the funds. McCain gives Obama "MORE" funds. Period!

    October 29, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  4. BeauMan

    The only reason I come to view CNN is to get a glimpse into the world of true liberal ignorance. Get used to a lot more of your money being spent if Obama is actually elected. His lies that you people are buying into is absolutely amazing. Have any of you even looked into this guy's past? Obviously, the answer is "No". If the general public actually educated itself with facts (not comments from Obama or McCain), you would see what is really going on here. A bunch of sheep who really have no clue.

    October 29, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  5. Sue T

    Some thing I have tryed to instill into my children and grandchildren over the years is this.........CHOOSE YOU WORDS WITH CARE,

    McCain and Palin need to have someone whisper this in their ear.......

    October 29, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  6. anton williams

    Money wasted...he's so far ahead in the polls, why bother throwing this money away when it can be put to other good uses...

    October 29, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  7. Helene

    I have given plenty of money to Obama and it is worth EVERY PENNY OF IT. I am investing in my children's future.

    October 29, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  8. ANGIE

    This is Great It gives Obama A chance to connect with people one last time, and to Point out what kind of President he will be. Senator Obama Thank You for using My donations In a Postive Smart way!

    October 29, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  9. Linda32

    Anytime they attack Obama about the money he has to spend, they are attack us, the American people, how donated to this campaign. Its about us, this election is about US.

    October 29, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Buster

    Ha Ha Ha Ha! THAT's the best you could do? Obama is delaying a baseball game? Way to really take it to him, RNC! You truly wounded him with that one! Excuse me while I gasp for breath because I'm laughing so hard. Oh, oh, and McCain, you TOTALLY dismembered him with that tired old "he doesn't have experience" crap. Yeah, coming from you that doesn't sound ironic at all when you have Caribou Barbie as your running mate.

    October 29, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. JuTon


    I think this ad is going to be a very good thing for people like myself who don't get to hear Obama's full message because we are in red-states such as Texas. Obama doesn't come to red states that McCain has a firm lead in nor does he come to the blue states that he has a firm lead. The candidates mostly campaign during work hours when people are at work and we only hear excerpts on the news. At least tonight, I can hear a full 30 minutes of what he has to say with no interruptions or lies. So in my opinion this is a great thing for Obama to do before the election. It could change some Americans mind or allow some people to make up their mind which is the goal of the race for Presidency!

    October 29, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. Adriana Birmingham, AL

    I support Obama but I don't think this is a good idea. No one wants to be lectured to for 30 minutes. This can only be used against him. It's not worth the few undecided voter out there.

    October 29, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. Trevor Guerlain

    What a media ho! If Obama really cared about Americans, he could have donated some of the millions to anyone else but tv networks....now that would have been novel. Your 15 minutes are almost up, Mr. Obama.

    October 29, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. The Stallion & The Champ vs. The Old Mule and Winky Half-baked Alaska

    Meanwhile, Grampy McCain't and his ditzy, divisive running mate are trying to decide which outfit to wear, which lie to tell and which tactic (since they've had no strategy other than flinging poo) to use in the next unreachable state on the electoral map. Pow!

    October 29, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. Carl

    I'm excited and very curious to how Obama presents himself and his plan in 30 minutes while keeping us views interested. It's going to have to be a carefully planned out balance and not seem too showy either. I have a feeling his has been working on this for a long long time and set aside money specifically for it. Also, having the world series game to continue after his speech, he'll have a wider audience.

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

    it sure shows desperation from nobama's part. Remember the only reason he can affort all this spending, is because he broke his promise from last November, he's a flip flop, polls means nothing, this is another strategy from the nobama camp, to discorage votes for Senator McCain.

    I am a Democrat who voted McCain/Palin
    and also a PUMA


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


    OBAMA,OBAMA,OBAMA,OBAMA,OBAMA. 2008/2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 29, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  18. Carrie

    This was the first time I ever donated to a campaign in my life of 50+ years. I consider it well worth my small contribution if this ad helps get Obama elected as President so he can but his talents to work on our country's monumental problems.

    October 29, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  19. Jamie

    They didn't preempt the World Series. The first pitch was always scheduled around 8:30 PM Eastern time. This will not change that. Please get your facts straight. Even MLB has confirmed this.

    October 29, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  20. Concerned in MA

    Goes to show you what a lot of overseas contributions can buy.

    October 29, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  21. Herman In LA

    Can not wait!

    October 29, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  22. JDM

    WWI, WWII, VEIT., Holocust, Gulf One, OIF/OEF, JFK, MLK, Nixon, Cater, Reagan, Bush One, Mandela, Berlin wall, 9/11. Two space shuttle lost. Small examples of people and events that cause change.
    Nov 4, 2008 can be one of those moments. After two hundred plus years, the face of they migthest nation in the world could forever change. For this reason alone I will vote for Obama.
    Don't be history-Create it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 29, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  23. Tired of the Hate

    I say good for him!! why not use the monies millions of people have donated. You can not blame him because people beleive in his message and give him money to continue the race. Believe me if Sen. McCain had the money to spend he would in a heartbeat. As the old saying goes "Don't hate the player..hate the game" . And the game is politics. Sometimes it is messy business. Maybe next election the Republican party will back their party candidate and get more financial contributions.

    October 29, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  24. Rogue Palin

    Can we talk about how the Mccain camp calls Palin a DIVA, and unfit whackjob??? this is real news!

    October 29, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. shannon

    As if any "undecided" voters are going to watch. If these people haven't decided yet, they surely aren't going to waste their time watching a 30 minute speech.

    "Undecided" voters a simply not interested in politics.

    October 29, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
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