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. Cheryl


    you have officially become PITIFUL

    February 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  2. hello

    Obama should stop whining.
    did not he distorted Clinton’s record in his AD.
    I think by running for President without any experience he has divided democratic party.
    he should have waited for his chance that way we could have democratic rule for 16 years.
    8 for HRC and 8 for him.

    February 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  3. Sue, NY

    Hillary wants the democratic party to unite together when the primaries are over, but, if she continues to use negative, fear tactics she is not going to achieve that. I voted for Hillary for NY senate. I will not vote for her for president. I am very tired of the politics of yesterday and I used to think it was only the republicans that were doing it....and then she ran for president and I see that she is in the same negative, "what's in it for me" camp. I listened to all of the fear tactics of GW Bush during the 2004 campaign and I couldn't believe people were believing it. And now, here we go again, but instead of GW Bush...it's our very own NY Senator, Hillary Clinton. She has lost my vote.

    February 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. lou

    Let me tell you a live example of media bias.

    A moment ago I did experiment on this board.

    left 3 pro clinton message first, only 1 approved so far
    left 2 pro obama message then, both approved in one minute
    media bias, bloody true

    February 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. NevadaDem

    i'd want Obama. Hilary would say "why did you call on me first?"

    February 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. Fed up in CT

    Obama is such a hypocrite. As if his "Harry and Louise" ads in Ohio were NOT the kind that play on people's fears to scare up votes. And he was quite adamant defending himself about using these kind of tactics. Pathetic.

    February 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. maynard

    hillary think about what you are doing... it looks like the end of your politcal life as you know it.... keep up the same old crap and it will bite you in the end.

    your political career is just about over your days are numbered

    February 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Fred

    My question is, will Michelle let Barack answer the phone at 3:00 in the morning?

    February 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  9. Whiskey

    I love how their are several idiots on this blog saying that Obama is a whiner. Hillary is the one engaging in smear tactics and false accusations as her lack luster campaign and personality have left her grabbing at straws. She makes democrats look bad.

    February 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. AMoore

    I, for one, am fearing about the possibility that person like Obama running the whole country. This guy has no freaking idea about the US foreign policy, let alone his possible liaison with Muslims (not only because of his Hussein middle name and the pic on internet). Like it or not, experience does play an important role here. We cannot afford to send an apprentice to the house when the economy is tanking and the terrorist countries are watching us.

    February 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. Felly

    Hillary is a bipolar and a fear monger. She is very unstable and I would not want her answering a White House call at 3:00a.m. Wondering what Bill will be doing at 3:00a.m.? President Obama will pick up the phone with the best judgement.

    February 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  12. Roger B from Portland, OR

    I love it. "Soft images." Yeah right. You are showing kids asleep while talking about international crisis! Does it not matter what we say as long as we show people a pretty image? Hey, I have a great idea for Hillary. Do an add talking about nuclear war...but do the whole thing over an image of a box of puppies. It isn't fear mongering because we are showing puppies! They are cute and soft images. Oh look at how they play as we tell you that if you don't vote for Clinton, your face will melt!

    The irony here, of course, is that a lot of Clinton supporters say this is what Obama does; shows us a pretty image so we don't care what he says. But then, I listen to both canidates and I hear what they say...and I like Obama's plan for uniting the country rather than villianizing any opponent they have.

    It doesn't help that I remember things like Bill Clinton bombing another country to take attention off the fact he got caught with his pants down...if Hillary is anything like her husband, we are in trouble!

    February 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. Alonzo Demetrius, FL, USA

    What foolish people they must be to think there is nothing to fear in this world. Obama knows he has nothing to fear from the Muslims, being one himself...

    February 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  14. D.

    Why when the truth is speaking, Obama called it's scary. I think he's scared if voters really got know him, to know how he handled his job in the past. He had done nothing in leadership in his more than three years' post as the United Staes senator. Look at his records, he's given chances to make changes, but nothing had happened.

    Texas, vote for Hillary. You can count on her to make the changes happen, not just speak of changes.

    February 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. Moyphee

    Obama authored 152 pieces of legislation in just 2 years while Hilary authored 20 in her 8 years in the senate. Obama has a decent record for his time and if you look at his record in public as whole Hilary's heir-apparent claim goes south.

    Her refusal to release her tax returns prove that she is 'Bought and Paid For" by the same special interest that funds her campaign.

    Shaking hands with world leaders and negotiating with them are completely different.. Neither candidate has any real foreign policy experience worth bragging about ...and neither did Bill Clinton for that matter. Too much experience makes one a creature of habit and that's even more dangerous.

    February 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  16. Chuck in Oregon


    It does not take an atomic scientist to answer the phone... hello, or President .... speaking... or what ever. I would hope the person answering that phone call is calm, level headed, and as the mind not to make any rash quick decisions without first gaining all the facts, weighing all options and making decisions in the best interest of the American People. In my mind what she is eluding to is there is a need for someone to quickly respond with out hesitation or thought to the situation. Any one can do that. I truly do not want that kind of person answering that phone at 3 am. Seems to me that kind of thinking is exactly what has placed American in the position it is in now.

    February 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  17. Robert

    It's Silly Season, and Hillary's people just don't get it. We have the Republican Party to pull out the scare tactics, which most of us will not listen to. This has been the policy of the current Administration for the last 8 years, if you can't reason with them through common sense, scare them. Really over the scare tactics, really over 'Silly Season' politics. Really ready for change and all Americans to dig in, get dirty and get the job(s) done.

    February 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Channell

    Its incredible how people hate Obama because of his name, because of the way he speaks or because of his positivitity during this campaign. People have said some ignorant things in regards to Obama and to his voters. Its one thing to say he is inexperienced and therefore I choose not to vote for him but it is another to not pay enough attention to the Presidential race and educate yourself on each candidate and base your decisions off of that.
    Ignorance is not going to move this country forward it is only going to bring us down.

    February 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. terry

    Hillary is the one who's scared. Texas and Ohio people are already abandoning Hillary based on these stupid tactics. This is real dumb of her.

    February 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  20. Jen

    Obama will hang up the phone because he doesn't have an answer for you and he will go back to sleep.

    February 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  21. Bill Jay

    BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA stop it with your silly attcks on Hillary.

    February 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  22. Real Person

    Okay..let's do a quick reality check in history. Senators, on the whole, have made poor Presidents in the U.S....at least those without some management experience otherwise. Right now, none of the three leading candidates to pick up that phone – of either party – has a great advantage in management experience.

    What I do see is two candidates on the Democratic side who are both appealing in different ways. I'm starting to lean in one direction, though, because one of them seems to always fall back on "politics as usual" strategies...and I just don't think "the usual" is the answer I want given on that phone...the time has come to walk the walk of a global nation...that doesn't mean giving up sovereignty, or anything like that – it just means learning that treating people with love and respect will be far more likely in the long run to garner the same in return...and in those cases where it does not...there are lots of other strategies besides "nuke 'em".

    February 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |

    A glimpse at the 2 candidates answering the phone.

    Hillary's Answer to a Phone Call: Do you know what #@$^%* time it is. Do you know who the ^%# this is? How dare you call me at this hour you insolent %#*.

    Obama's Answer to a Phone Call: We gotta have HOPE brother, we can CHANGE this. Don't worry if we HOPE and CHANGE all will be okay.

    February 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  24. BR

    Yes, It does matter, very much. And this American would rather hear, the cool, collected, thoughtful voice of Sen Obama, and not the shrill, crazed howlings of Sen. Clinton; which has been her hallmark of late. We need a rational thinker, not an emotional reactor. Sen. Clinton's tears and outbursts during this campaign, make me feel that she is a little high strung, and wouldn't respond rationally when it really counts. And honestly, to echo Mr. Obama, she hasn't responded rationally in past "decisions", so why should I believe that she'd give more care to future important choices?

    February 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  25. Jessica

    Oh Please, Sen Obama, there will be crises, and your experience will be called upon! Are you prepared to show up at 3 am in the morning for it? Or will you vote present again? Do you even know what this job is all about?

    Hillary 08!

    February 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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