October 12th, 2008
05:45 PM ET
11 years ago

Fact Check: Are all McCain's ads negative?


Watch CNN's Alina Cho fact check whether McCain's ads are all negative.

The Statement:

At a campaign stop Sunday, October 12, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sen. Barack Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, said, "A recent analysis showed - and this is literal - a recent analysis showed that 100 percent of the advertisements that the McCain campaign is now running - 100 percent - are
advertisements attacking, attacking Barack Obama."

Get the facts!

The Facts:

The Obama campaign has been circulating a study by the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project that examined TV ad spending by the two candidates from September 28 to October 4. The Obama campaign told CNN Sunday that Biden has been referring to that report on the stump. One conclusion, summarized in one of the report's sub-headlines: "McCain's ads nearly 100% negative."

The report said in that week, the Obama campaign spent "just under $17.5 million while the McCain campaign and the RNC (Republican National Committee) spent just under $11 million combined" on their ads. Of that, "nearly 100 percent of the McCain campaign's advertisements were negative," while 34 percent of Obama's ads were negative.

The study also found that both campaigns have spent more on negative advertising than their counterparts did during the last presidential race. "In all of 2004, 64 percent of the Bush campaign's ads were negative, while to date, 73 percent of McCain's ads have been negative. Similarly, 34 percent of all Kerry ads were negative while 61 percent of Obama's have been."

On Saturday, October 11, CNN's Alexander Mooney reported that both the Obama and McCain campaigns are "spending about the same on negative ads."

"An analysis of campaign commercials aired over the last seven days shows Obama outspent McCain nationwide by more than 2-1: $21.5 million vs. $9.2 million. But just under half of the money Obama is spending is going toward negative spots, meaning the Illinois senator is roughly keeping pace with his GOP rival when it comes to negative commercials, in terms of cash spent," the story said.

That information comes from the Campaign Media Analysis Group, CNN's consultant on campaign advertising. CMAG also provided the information that the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project used for its report.

CNN contacted the McCain campaign Sunday to request an example of a non-negative ad that aired during the time period of the University of Wisconsin study. The McCain campaign did not immediately return the call.

Biden's statement on the stump Sunday was similar to what he said last week on Thursday, at a campaign stop in Liberty, Missouri, when he also argued that the analysis says "100 percent" of the ads McCain is running are negative.

The Verdict:

False. While the analysis Biden referenced says "nearly 100 percent" of the McCain ads were negative, Biden's claim that it says "100 percent" are attacking Obama is inaccurate. The statement is also incomplete. The analysis says about a third of Obama's ads were negative, but Obama has more ads overall, and the two candidates are spending about the same on negative advertising.

Filed under: Fact Check • Joe Biden • John McCain • Political ads
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