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. Offenright

    Well, Obama needs to get his message out to the public without the media filtration. It is astonishing that Republican prevarications likening Obama to Karl Marx and socialism have been permitted to propagate unchecked through the media.

    One point that has never been made clear is that the American Dream is for those willing to work for it. The lazy and disinclined will not be beneficiaries of any "wealth redistribution" under any party's tax reform plan, but they certainly benefited equally in Palin's Alaska, in the form of [socialist-sounding] rebates!

    There's nothing un-American about wanting the wealthiest individuals to simply pay their fair share of tax. Accusing a presidential candidate of wanting to take everybody's money is a new low in campaign rhetoric.

    October 29, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. proud american

    i am ashamed of CNN for calling this an infomercial
    you bias is showing CNN-please get rid of C BROWN

    October 29, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. Larry

    Uninformed ,emotional people are here-writing their clueless thoughts about how Obama is going to somehow save them.People,this guy has never had a real job,he's going to be gone in four years,and will have screwed everything up more than Bush has.At least McCain will protect us from terrorist threats,and he's going to not raise anybodies taxes,that's good for jobs,which it what it is going to take to get us out of this mess.

    October 29, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  4. Dee

    Joan – Obama gets an hour with Wolf Blitzer on CNN Friday nite, so that evens out.

    To those who think "undecided voters" are stupid – maybe they don't think it's any of your business, the pollsters business, the medias business or mine, who they vote for. And that's their constitutional right!

    Obama's 30 minute "show" tonight – how fast can you switch channels? Between his ads, the free air time for his and Biden's speeches, his interviews, and his very own station running 24/7, he needs more air time? Talk about a waste of donations. Is this an indication of how he intends to use my tax dollars – spend, spend, spend?

    October 29, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  5. Spencer/VIRGINIA

    @ OLIVIA

    Palin may not be a socialist but her husband sure is a secessionist. She may be one as well since she supports AIP.

    October 29, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. Kevin

    Amazing that Obama can afford these ads.... oh, I forgot...he went back on his promise to accept public funding. What a liar. What a hypocrite. Barack, let America see your birth certificate..... and let us see that tape the LA Times is suppressing.

    October 29, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. USAF Staff Sergeant

    I planned my day weeks ago in anticipation of this ad! I can't wait to see it.

    October 29, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  8. Reagan Democrat

    Obama says BLAH, BLAH, BLAH my opponent will tell you false stories. Tobe honest Barack, I'm tired of your sad and inspiring life story. You were dumped by MOMA, you were a privilaged student in the best private school in the islands, and went to the best schools in the mainland on the taxpayer and you know it. You are a Master word weaver but not a truthful person your a politican this TV stunt will be a pitfall for you chum. Enough of your bovine scatology, just what have you done to earn the Presidency, Oh run a slick campain. Won't work on me in 4yrs you if your lucky to get in now will be gone a TRANSITIONS from the Bush years.Get lost you hypocrate!!!

    2012 Clinton 😉

    October 29, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  9. Pam

    Senator Obama has had to prove and explain himself in so many ways and so many times. If he had kept just the campaign finance as Senator McCain did, Senator Obama would not be where he is now. He just would not have been able to keep up with all the negative.

    I am very proud to say that I support Senator Obama and have been working his campaign in my home town.

    I believe that the ad tonight is just like the rest of his campaign, very smart and very strategic.


    October 29, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. aware


    Money and Media buy the US presidency!

    But an authentic reformer, Sarah Palin, takes it back in 2012!

    October 29, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. 08 McCain

    It will be 30 minutes of repeating 'Another 8 years of Bush'. I'm tired to listening to that. There's nothing brilliant about that line. Of course, you'll attack you opponent, if he of the same party as the incumbent. It does require much thinking there.

    I'll settle for watching NickTunes.

    October 29, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  12. Steve/ Houston,TX

    I believe this is just a wise decision on the part of the Democratic Party. McCain is just reaching for something negative to say in regards to this and it is funny that he has a 30 second ad to respond to Obama. What Barack has been able to accomplish in his campaign will be accomplished in his presidency. This country will so much better off once he takes office. I wish that John McCain and followers will stop the hate ads and go out gracefully. I know it won't happen but it is a wise suggestion. Although I already voted for Obama/Biden, I can't wait to watch the program tonite. History in the making.

    October 29, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. kenny cole

    Go on BARACK the whole world got your back,you have shown the whole world how desent ,responsible,intelligent you are

    October 29, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  14. NO OBAMA

    Once again, someone needs to ask.....WHERES THE MONEY COMING FROM????

    October 29, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  15. JOHN

    It's interesting reading about conservative criticism of Obama not accepting public financing. Obama has used money that he has accepted from individual donors to run his campaign, not from the US government through taxes. I'm glad to see he's used money that comes directly from the people. You could say that he's financing this TV spot, and indeed his whole campaign, through some form of "public financing".

    October 29, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. j

    I'm concerned that putting this ad so close to the World Series will turn out to be a problem for Obama. I understand that it only preempts the pre-game show but sports fans got to have their sports and I'm not sure they'll see the distinction. Obama will learn soon enough whether this was a good idea or not. Once again I urge Obama supporters to get out and VOTE!

    October 29, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  17. Tulsa

    Obama should do these 30 minute AD'S with all the lies, and half truths, and trash that McCain and Palin and the Republican party have thrown at him should hear directly from him what his policies are and NOT what McCain and Palin say they are...........and for all the people who couldn't get out to see him at one of his rallies should have the opportunity to see him and hear from his own mouth what he is going to do for them and this Country.......And for all you people who send me this trash emails full of lies and racists remarks.........I send them straight to SPAM..........

    October 29, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  18. Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    CNN gets on my nerves sometimes. I think it is a stupid move not to air the Obama 30-minute spot. Moreover, I don't think that CNN does that good of a job exploring (substantively) both sides of the issues. There refusal to air this ad is evidence of this.

    October 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  19. vic nashville,Tn

    Obama supporter attacking CNN for declined Obama camp ad and they were praising MSNBC AND FOX

    15 min before FOX and MSNBC were showing car chase in Miami But CNN was telecasting Obama’s speech ( free)

    Most trusted name in news and best political team never let us down
    Thanks CNN

    October 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  20. wycliffe, NJ

    Cindy should sacrifice for husband the millions she has to match the game that obama is playing. In sports, the last 2 minutes determines the game out come especially when the game is very close. If an opponent makes a move the other team should adjust their strategy. Instead of McCain sitting and complaing about Obamas strategy he should respond by coming up with his own air time.

    October 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  21. mike

    there are only two things I am "decided" about in this election, one is I won't be watching the "buy me" 30 minute ad (remember it's an ad, nothing of substance has ever been put into advertising) and the second is that we are in desparate NEED a STRONG THIRD PARTY. Even Bob Barr would be better than either of these two. I wonder how much of the contributions that came from outside the country will be used to usurp our airwaves tonight.

    October 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  22. Audrey Fryer

    At least he is paying his way not like the free advertising you have given Palin for her "Energy policy speech". (1/2 hour plus 15 minutes of McCain) I noticed you didn't pre-empt any of your programming for her/his speech. Who is running for President anyway on that ticket. Isn't it up to McCain to be putting forth "Policy" speeches and not his veep. Isn't she being presumptious? Has she won the "Presidency" already?

    October 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  23. Deb n Texas

    It's funny how McCain and the rest of the GOP is trying to find everything they could negative about this 30 minute ad that Obama is having. They sound like the jealous kids when I was young – they wanted, they didn't have so they found something negative to say rather than give me a compiment.

    October 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  24. shahid

    Even inside Obama's campaign, some of his people already feel that everything is just about Obama. With over $600 millions raised for the Democratic campaign, Obama has not given any to help out with campaigning at Congress or Senate level or even help out with Clinton's debt. All money has been poured into Obama's image. $600 millions!!! Another obvious evidence is tonight infomercial on Obama for 30 MINUTES!!! all over the air.

    The most liberal and egotistic candidate ever. You don't help the people sitting in the wagon by screwing the one pulling it. That's the message to all liberals. After hours of pulling the wagon, when refreshment comes, the people sitting in the wagon get it first. What a deal. America, please vote rationally, not emotionally.

    October 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  25. Jay

    Let'ssee, CNN didn't want to carryt he 30 minute spot because it would make them pre-empt their normal coverage of, what was that? Oh yeah, the campaign. I though that is what this is. And talk about "out of touch". Will somebody please tell McBush and the RNC that baseball has not been the national pastime for quite a while now.


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