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Clinton Ad: Will Somebody Answer The Damned Phone!!

Posted by: David Kiley on April 2, 2008

Senator Hillary Clinton’s speechwriter’s and ad team need to take up writer and TV personality Dick Cavett’s suggestion of hiring a first-rate comedy writer.

The Senator has released yet another “3AM”ad, only this time she suggests that the call in the middle-of-the night is about the U.S. economy. Again, we see the sights of sleeping children. The phone rings throughout the ad, with the voiceover suggesting that Republican presumptive nominee John McCain would just let it ring. Hillary, at the end of the ad, is seen talking on the phone. To the Chinese? The Fed Chairman? Her Accountant?

The 3AM ad that ran in Texas before that state’s primary, suggesting that Clinton was the president you want answering the phone in the middle of the night in the face of a national security threat, has become thee stuff of lampoon and parody. This has especially been the case since her gaffe (it was really just a case of blarney if you consider it was March 17 and she was wearing a shamrock scarf) about ducking sniper fire in Bosnia.

But Clinton ad meister Mark Penn decided, “Let’s do the 3AM thing again.” While I think the ad will get lampooned, the fact that she reprised the premise will, I suspect, accomplish one thing—lots of free airings on cable news.

Clinton is running out of money and being outspent in Pennsylvania six-to-one by Barack Obama. If she had simply run a traditional ad about her ability to salve the economy with Presidential policy and leadership, it might not get picked up by TV producers. That she had the nerve to go back to the 3AM idea will probably guarantee multiple free airings on MSNBC, CNN, Fox and local Pennsylvania TV stations.

From a sheer creative standpoint, the ad feels a bit like her comments this week on April 1 where she challenged Obama to a bowling match to settle the nomination. She started out well, dead-pan, and when she delivered the bowl-off punch line she should have ended it.

I’ll even give her the extra punch-line where she hoped the Obama campaign would finally get out of the gutter. But then she kept the joke going a few minutes too long. It was painful. Maybe the Obama surrogates are right. Clinton’s problem may be that she doesn’t know when to get off the stage.

A good comedy writer would help her know when to get away on a high note.

Reader Comments

Lisa Pase

April 4, 2008 12:50 PM

There IS a comedy sketch about how Hillary might handle that 3am phone call. See it here:

Steven Wilson

April 4, 2008 1:21 PM

She will have the Three Stooges answering the phone at three O'clock in the morning.

It will be her. Bill and her Ditzy daughter......Trying to figure out who bounced the check on the national debt.

Bill Clinton never paid down the national debt. Look on the treasury departments website by searching on Yahoo's website. Search for, (Public Debt to the Penny). On the left hand side of the United States Treasury Departments website click on, (Historical Debt Outstanding). This lists the debt in 50 year increments.

The last time the national Debt was paid down was 1957!!!!
Bill Clinton never paid down the national debt...Or had a surplus while in office.

Why would I want another liar in office from the Clinton family. Let them manage their own finances.....Not the United States Governments.

Michael McTigue

April 4, 2008 1:29 PM

Here's what bothered me when I saw the ad here in Pennsylvania...isn't something like home foreclosures an issue that could be tackled during normal business hours? Why would she get that call at 3 am? Its just laziness on Mark Penn's part.

Gaias Child

April 4, 2008 1:30 PM

It's too late for her to end on a high note. She's not listening to the people who have hoped she would, could, remain a constructive part of the need to change the national direction and practices. Too late now. She's using all the tactics and masks that are part of the problem. Her big donors leaning on Nancy Pelosi, which was evidently supposed to be a secret, one example. If she would have could have preferred unity to "me first" "me only" kind of campaigning, we'd be so less divided now. Not going to happen. Her choice.


April 4, 2008 1:32 PM

Yes, we need a comedy writer for this 3 act play.

I ran across an article that was published about 9-10 years ago. Who would have thought that it would still be appropriate for today.

Go Obama

April 4, 2008 1:34 PM

Yes, she will be up at 3 am, Waiting for BILL to come home!!!!


April 4, 2008 1:36 PM

Hillary just does not have any forsight or zing in her step. This is an incredable person that continues to come off a a rerun of My Mother the Car. She must step it up.

William J

April 4, 2008 1:39 PM

agreed. that ad is horrible. the whole 3am thing was horrible from the start. it just gets worse and worse. Who's gonna answer the phone at 3am? Hiullary of course, cause billy is busy giving interns tours of the oval office.

Charles Miller

April 4, 2008 1:50 PM

How can Hillary manage the US economy when she is can not manage money on her own campaign. Hillary's campaign funds are going broke and she owes millions of dollars with no money to pay her own campaign bills.

Alan Gee

April 4, 2008 1:59 PM

I agree with Cavett. But not only does Hillary Clinton need a comedy writer, she needs better writers in general and better coaching. She has to lighten up and warm up. Her speaking style and stage presence is causing her to lose votes. She's far too stiff and unappealing and Obama is walking all over her. He can say nothing (which he often does) and still sound good. Hillary all too often sounds stilted and insincere, which I'm sure she's not.


April 4, 2008 2:08 PM

Why worry too much? Uncle Wright will provide the financial support from others to you.

Melanie Coronetz

April 4, 2008 2:57 PM

I think she was ordering a pizza.

Shawn Berry

April 4, 2008 3:56 PM

It would be funnier if she answers the phone and it's a wrong number.


April 4, 2008 4:12 PM

Truth be told, the national media has been more like Obama's stage mama. (That's why the SNL parodies were so funny- they were right on.)

Like it or not- the 3 am ad struck a chord with everyone- it's popular.

And what an economic way to highlight Hillary's economic strength (she runs circles around the two guys in the race on this issue)--then with this 3 am wake-up call.

Richard Osborn

April 4, 2008 4:45 PM

The ad leaves out one-half of the situation. It should start with a phone, ring-ring-ring, then two hands reach for the phone, Muffled voices start, "it's for me," "No, let,me get it." "I have done this before." "Yes, but now I am President" Finally we resolve as Bill and Hillary fight over who gets to be President, answer the phone and show who is in change in the bedroom.


April 4, 2008 5:59 PM


If you think Barack Obama with little or no experience would be better than Hillary Clinton with 35 years experience.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience can fix an economy on the verge of collapse better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) led the greatest economic expansion, and prosperity in American history.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience fighting for universal health care can get it for you better than Hillary Clinton. Who anticipated this current health care crisis back in 1993, and fought a pitched battle against overwhelming odds to get universal health care for all the American people.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience can manage, and get us out of two wars better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) went to war only when he was convinced that he absolutely had to. Then completed the mission in record time against a nuclear power. AND DID NOT LOSE THE LIFE OF A SINGLE AMERICAN SOLDIER. NOT ONE!

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience saving the environment is better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) left office with the greatest amount of environmental cleanup, and protections in American history.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with little or no education experience is better than Hillary Clinton. Whose ;-) husband (Bill Clinton) made higher education affordable for every American. And created higher job demand and starting salary's than they had ever been before or since.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that Obama with no experience will be better than Hillary Clinton who spent 8 years at the right hand of President Bill Clinton. Who is already on record as one of the greatest Presidents in American history.

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think that you can change the way Washington works with pretty speeches from Obama, rather than with the experience, and political expertise of two master politicians ON YOUR SIDE like Hillary and Bill Clinton..

You Might Be An Idiot!

If you think all those Republicans voting for Obama in the Democratic primaries, and caucuses are doing so because they think he is a stronger Democratic candidate than Hillary Clinton. :-)

Best regards



April 5, 2008 10:21 AM

I wonder how much fundraising money for Mrs. Clinton is coming from Colombia…let's check!! Where is a Penn when you need one?

Supporter for HILLARY

April 21, 2008 12:04 AM

Viva La Hillary,
Long live the next President of the United States.
OBama is only in the Race because it's the first time a woman was runing for President.
& so to keep down riots & all sorts of hard feelings we have a Black Person also running for President
Alfred E Neuman (Mad magazine) would have as much chance as winning as OBama.
The ole Obama is winning is just to give some people a warm fuzzy feeling.
When the dust settles after the election HILLARY will be the next President.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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