February 29th, 2008
03:01 PM ET
15 years ago

Obama: Clinton ad an attempt to scare voters


Obama said Friday Clinton's ad is an attempt to scare voters. (AP Photo)

(CNN) - Democrat Barack Obama said Friday that rival Hillary Clinton is trying to scare voters with a new television ad that raises the prospect of a foreign crisis over images of children asleep in their beds.

"We've seen these ads before," the Illinois senator said at a campaign event in Houston, Texas. "They're the kind that play on people's fears to scare up votes.

"Well, it won't work this time," he continued. "Because the question is not about picking up the phone. The question is: What kind of judgment will you make when you answer?"

The ad, launched Friday in Texas ahead of that state's crucial March 4 primary, shows children asleep in their beds in the middle of the night while a narrator references a potential national security crisis and asks, "It's 3 a.m. and your children are safely asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?"

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe denounced the ad in a conference call with reporters earlier Friday. And in his comments in Houston, Obama said, "We've had a red phone moment. It was the decision to invade Iraq. And Senator Clinton gave the wrong answer. George Bush gave the wrong answer. John McCain gave the wrong answer."

The Clinton campaign meanwhile vigorously defended the ad, and brushed aside notions it is reminiscent of the famous Lyndon Johnson "Daisy" ad, which portrayed a young girl counting down to a nuclear attack.

"This is a positive ad," Clinton adviser Mark Penn said. "Very soft images, not at all like that ad. Soft images. And it poses a question to people that they have to answer themselves: Who do they want to pick up the phone?"

"That ad basically envisions the apocalypse, and that is not what this ad does," Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson said. "This ad basically says, 'You know what? We are electing a president and it matters who is handling a phone call in a crisis at 3 a.m. as president.' That is a legitimate matter for a presidential campaign."

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

soundoff (372 Responses)
  1. Dominoid

    Thank you Senator Clinton for running a disgusting ad that cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to run and for giving Barack Obama all the FREE press he needed to point out your attempts at fear mongering.

    February 29, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  2. John

    Clinton is desperate and would run any ad she thought would help her win. I'm not saying that in a negative way – she thinks she would be the best President so she's willing to do what it takes to win. Is this as "bad" as Lyndon Johnson's ad or an ad which shows the 9/11 attacks? Probably not. Is it a "scare" ad? Of couse. Candidates have been running scare ads for years.

    February 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |

    What else is new? Clinton is trying to pull out all the stops now, she knows it is all over for her but she is going to try anything desperate, what a fool. Time to go back to AR Clinton.

    Everyone can see through her and she knows it, but in her hollow place of a brain, she thinks people will vote for her, a vote for her is a vote for failure. Haven't we had enough of that already!

    February 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  4. Lynn

    Way to go Obama...keep it positive but quickly answer negativity or attacks.....Obama 08

    February 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    I don't want Hillary answering the phone at ANY time of the day.

    February 29, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  6. Steve, Minneapolis

    I just have a feeling, a very bad feeling that the Election 2008 will be the most divisive election in the history of this country.

    February 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Bill Jay

    Barack Hussein Obama stop already with your silly attacks on Hillary............

    February 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Jeff

    ....and the person I want answering the phone is Hillary Clinton.

    February 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  9. April in Texas

    Out with old Washington and in with a new working Washington. Its time for the American people to to vote for change and to follow through to see that change happen. Obama '08! He can answer the phone and make the correct judgement call.

    February 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. Brian M. From Fort Mill, S.C.

    It's 3AM at the White House. The phone rings. Hillary answers. It's Mark Penn. She says, "You're fired!"

    February 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. diamond965

    I hate to be the one to say it, but all the emotional ups and downs that Hillary has displayed is exactly why people do not want a woman in the white house, female harmones. Obama has maintained a type of resolve that is becoming of a President, Hillary just doesn't have it and that is what has been apparent through this democratic nomination's process, she would not represent this nation to the best of its ability. Obama 08...

    February 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  12. Ohio Democrat

    Once again, I suppose Obama has smoothed over and canceled out any doubt about his experience, which does not exist. Boy he is slick with his answers, but he has no experience to be nominated to run for president of the United States.

    Hillary 08

    February 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. Ben

    This ad can only hurt the Clinton campaign, for two reasons: (1. it strengthens in people's mind the perception that the Clinton camp is willing to use the same sort of fear tactics that helped Bush beat Kerry, and (2. the remind people of Clinton's prior judgment in a tough situation–the decision to invade Iraq–which most Democrats are still mad at her about.

    February 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. Allan Camden, SC

    Thanks, Barack. After next Tuesday, I hope you can concentrate on beating up on the Republicans and not have to deflect nonsense from your own Party. If ever you have another "debate" with Mrs. Clinton, please ask her why she doesn't say this sort of nonsense around you, but waits until she has a microphone all to herself.

    GObama 08!

    February 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  15. Dusacre


    Please go out like a lady!

    February 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Karin

    Who do they want to pick up the phone?"
    President Obama!

    Here in Ohio, all of my pro-Hillary friends see the writing on the wall. Hopefully, on Wednesday, Hillary will see the same and stop throwing mud – start unifying against McCain.

    February 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  17. Lou

    The only explanation for this overreaction is that this AD plays into fear of Obama campaign, NOT Voters.
    Lacking foreign affair experience is Obama's soft spot. Besides, his stance on Israel is suspicious. How can we trust this guy on dealing with our enemies?

    February 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. Hillary is right!!!!!

    Senator Obama stated during the debate that he wanted to take that one vote back because.........

    being a Constitutional Law Professor I knew it was the wrong vote and I did it anyway...............

    So where was his judgment then ??????????? That was like voting 'present'........and how the MEDIA hasn't picked up on this????

    He clearly showed very poor judgment to vote knowing it was wrong? DUH!

    February 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. st louis

    It won't work Hillary!!! Shame on you.

    February 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  20. Karen LV

    I cannot believe they call this a positive ad with very soft images! Maybe Iraqi citizens should answer with their own ad, featuring their children in bed blown to pieces with American bombs with the same focus: Who do they want to pick up the phone?

    February 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  21. Kimo

    Got to had it to Hillary. She has managed to not only to be able to polarize the country, but split the Democratic Party. Wouldn't surprise me if she asked Nader to be her VP choice.

    February 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  22. BG - Texas

    Acutally I'm real scared that either of you two will pick up the phone.

    John McCain is starting to look real good about now and is probably enjoying all of this pettiness. There's a reason all these republican are voting in the democratic primaries and that's to pick a democratic candidate that will be easy pickings in November.

    February 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  23. lolo333

    He's go a lot of nerve saying Hillary is trying to scare up votes when he is THREATENING black representatives to vote for him or else. He needs to stop being such a cry baby already.

    February 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  24. Bob

    Hillary Clinton is now a Republican.

    February 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  25. jerry

    I was afraid of Oboma long before any phone ringing ad appeared. A nice fellow but what has he done, wherein lies his experience????

    February 29, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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