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McCain Waging Effective War of Words.

Posted by: David Kiley on July 30, 2008

The war of hot button words is revving up in the Presidential campaign. In John McCain’s newest ad today, the McCain camp calls Barack Obama, “the biggest celebrity in the world.”

The word “celebrity” tested very negatively with voters, essentially linking Obama with Angelina Jolie and Madonna. “Celebrity” equals superficial for voters, people who are well known for being well known. This is the approach to advertising that gave us “Death Tax” and “Family Values.”

It’s smart strategic political hardball.

It is starting to look like the McCain campaign, as I have said before, is pursuing the Rove strategy—-relentless, daily attack. This ad goes after Obama’s position against off-shore oil drilling. This is an issue that has plenty of opponents who reason that more off-shore drilling won’t change the price of gas at the pumps. But in focus group testing, voters like it—along with a gas tax holiday.

One of the Rove principles of political advertising—agree with the voters even if they are wrong.

McCain strategist Steve Schmidt said Wednesday that Barack Obama is the biggeest celebrity in the world, and that Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, also seen in the add, are second and third. It’s useful to note that Schmidt pulled this information out of his you-know-what, and that there is no third party measurement of this that Schmidt could cite or that I could find.

On the call today, Schmidt personally echoed a canard that Obama has a track record of supporting tax hikes on people in the $32,000 income bracket. Weeks ago, debunked this.

Said “The McCain campaign claims that Obama voted to raise income taxes on individuals who earn as little as $32,000 per year. That’s wrong.

The resolution Obama voted for would not have increased taxes on any single taxpayer making less than $41,500 per year in total income, or any couple making less than $83,000. The $32,000 figure is approximately the taxable income of a single person making $41,500 per year, after all deductions and exclusions.

Obama’s vote (for a non-binding budget bill) does not change the fact that his own tax plan would provide a tax cut of $502 for a non-married taxpayer earning $35,000.”

The Rove/Schmidt strategy may seem like throwing paint bombs at a white house. But here’s the thing. If you throw enough paint bombs long enough, the house changes color.

Reader Comments


July 31, 2008 5:05 PM

great. i'm glad we've really evolved in the past 8 years of utter turmoil because of rovian ploys.

aren't there real issues we can discuss? aren't the candidates different on these? if so, how?

let's stop trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. i'm speaking to you, david!

joe blow

July 31, 2008 8:29 PM

The Karl Rove / W Bush sleazy negative attack ads will only work if the American people decide to fall for that again instead of focussing on the issues. If that is the case the American people will get what they deserve, a 3rd term for Bush / McSame.


August 1, 2008 12:07 AM

Does anyone have any doubt that every democrat will raise tax? Do you believe that Obama will not raise a dime tax from any family with incomes below $250,000? It s fairy tail, said President Clinton!


August 1, 2008 10:39 PM

4,000 dead in Iraq, unemployment is creeping up toward 6 percent, bin Laden is still on the loose, and McCain wants to distract us with all this crap about Britney Spears. He thinks we're too stupid to figure out what he's doing. He's wrong.

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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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