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. Joshua, Austin TX

    Re: laura February 29th, 2008 1:38 pm ET

    We do not need the bad karma individuals like you bring to the party.

    February 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Trev

    It does matter. We have to think beyond the hope and joy and to the crises that seem to define most presidencies. That is just the way it is in the REAL world.

    Go Hillary

    February 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Nate

    As a republican I say go ahead and nominate that chap dems. I've watched the guy in interviews and the majority of his reponse is "uh, err, ummm, I think, errr, ummm." The guy obviously cannot think on his feet. Sure he can deliver pre written speech just fine, but you are going to have to be more than a good reader to be president. When someone brings up a legitimate issue with his past or policies (either Hillary or someone over here on the right) he either whines and plays the victim card or says we shouldn't have gone into Iraq. On the victim card he needs to toughen up. If his feelings get hurt that someone questions why he only voted 'present' how is he going to deal with foreign leaders? On the whole Irq thing. We could sit here and debate until we are blue in the face about whether or not we should have gone into Iraq. The fact of the matter is we are there now so we have to figure out what is best for America going forward. Stop trying to prove you have great hindsight and start trying to show some foresight. Comments like "I'm pulling out of Iraq, but I'll go back in if AQ is there." show just how clueless this guy really is. So please go ahead and nominate the guy. Come November when this whole rock star crap has long worn off you are going to be asking yourselves what the heck you were thinking.

    February 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. Bill Jay

    BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA try being polite.

    February 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Mickie in PA

    It is ironic tha Hillary's supporters keep touting her "experience" - guess who else has experience - George W. Bush and look where that got us. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both only had experience as governors when they ran for President. Guess what experience John F. Kennedy had - first time senator. The only experience Hillary has had other than as a senator is by osmosis from Bill - or was she making the decisions for him? Let's focus on what they stand for and I do not like Hillary's voting record – that's the bottom line.

    February 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  6. lou

    People should be scared... this is serious business and your empty words of “hope” really scare me… Hitler, Fidel, Stalin come to mind… we were fooled recently by the “DECIDER” self called the “uniter”

    February 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  7. MeluBarney

    CNN bias... let's boycott CNN.

    February 29, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  8. Edi

    On a Canadian television station last night(CTV) there was a report about Obama's scare tactics. It stated that a sr. official for Obama told a Canadian gov't official that he would not pull out of NAFTA and not to believe what he said on TV. This was subsequently denied by a Candian gov't official who said it was not right to comment on American affairs, but last night it was RECONFIRMED that a sr. official for the OBAMA camp did phone the Candian gov't and said he would not pull out of NAFTA. Scare tactics, I think, for both Candians and Americans.

    February 29, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  9. Dominoid

    "Hello, this is President Clinton. What we have an unspecified emergency. You didn't call me first did you?"

    February 29, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  10. Marge, Vermont

    Wasn't it Hilliary who said:"Words are cheap!" Yet, she constantly uses cheap tactics, words and innuendos! A "get real" check is in order: You are losing Hillary!

    February 29, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. New Yorker

    The Clinton Spin Machine is at work saying that Obama must win all of Tuesday's primaries. Do we want Clinton spin, manipulation, distortions for the next four years? Or do we want a breath of fresh air – Obama?

    February 29, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  12. eliza from ohio

    We have lived through enough fear politics to last us a lifetime! I am sick of politicians resorting to such tactics. If Hillary is so confident that she is a better candidate than she should be able to make her case without using fear and negativity. This attitude is exactly what needs to change in Washington, and Obama understands that!

    February 29, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  13. JBiggs, VA

    Obama isn't perfect, but he's steady.

    My immediate reaction to the ad was "Which Hillary will answer the phone at 3 AM? Sarcastic Hillary, Honored- to-be-here-with-you Hillary, Shame-on- you Hillary, teary Hillary, or Fully-vetted-so-I-won't-release-my-tax-returns Hillary"?

    Her switching personas makes me feel she's extremely erratic, and the ad actually underscores and reminds me that she is exactly NOT the person I want answering the red phone.

    As an independent, my reaction to the Clinton ad is probably not what the Clinton campaign would hope for.

    February 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. therealist

    Look! Look!! Two chicken hawks trying to show which is tougher...

    February 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. Polanco of Jersey

    The question is if you are ready to handle the presure of foreing policies and national security, that's the question Mr Obama and we are not sure about you but we are about Hillary Rodhan Clinton there is nothing to fear but yourself Mr Barack Hussein Obama.

    February 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. dm

    neither democrat is worthy of presidency! mccain for president!

    February 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  17. Georgie

    Obama is SO negative. Hummmmm, thought he was the agent of Change. Not So Huh ? All Hillary was doing was making a point of reality. We all know the world is dangerously unstable right now. Especially the Middle East, this is a possibility you know. I don't want a President that will answere the phone on a crisis @ 3AM & say "Present". Hillary is the President with the clear head who can make those instant decisions, based on sound experience & knowledge. Support Hillary & Vote her in !

    February 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  18. sascha

    It's just tactics, so what? Mrs. Clinton has to fight for every vote like Mr. Obama, and this commercial just underlines her "I am more experienced than my opponent" argument. But people shouldn't forget, that she could give the wrong answer, as she did at the beginning of the Iraq war....

    February 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Mike H.

    The ad is both fair and thoughtful. There are very likely to be crises where the President must make a hurried decision wthout the full benefit of the advice of his advisors. Given the manner in which Obama has thus far addressed foreign policy issues, I shutter to think of him as the man answering the phone.

    February 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. Barack Oprah

    In fact, Obama's "experience" scares much more people in worldwide.

    February 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. NYC Native

    Now we have two "long national nightmares" – the Bush presidency and the Democratic primary slug-fest. With all the vitrol from both Hillary & Obama camps attacking each other's supporters, how are we supposed to "unite" when Election Day comes in November??

    February 29, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. kd

    Funny, if Obama had this ad, it would be showing his strength. All HRC asks who is ready on day one

    February 29, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  23. BJ

    Blows me away that a JUNIOR senator with no real leadership experience thinks he knows it all. What's even more shocking is that there are actually young voters who think he is the best thing they have ever seen or heard.


    February 29, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Red phone Huh?

    Obama was NOT in office when the vote was taken, but he IS on record saying he WOULS HAV EVOTED PRECISELY THE SAME HAD HE BEEN!

    February 29, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. Eva

    Barack Obama has had no "red button moment." That is a lie.
    He was elected to serve the people of Illinois in the U.S. Senate
    in 2004, and began his service in Jan. of 2005. The War in
    Iraq began on March 20, 2003. He had no vote on that war.
    He had no intelligence upon which to base a stance on the
    Iraq War, so his claim to superior judgement is baseless.

    February 29, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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