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McCain's Summer of "Love" Ad: Pass the Ammunition. But hold the Hope.

Posted by: David Kiley on July 8, 2008

Imagine my surprise when I looked in my e-mail and saw that the McCain campaign issued an ad titled “Love.”

What will this be, I thought. The softer side of John M.?
It is another biographical ad that talks up McCain being shot down and held captive. And his love of country is briefly juxtaposed against the “Summer of Love.”

The ongoing storyline, the subtext, being painted in McCain’s ad is this: This is no time to go with Junior (Obama).

“John McCain: Shot down. Bayoneted. Tortured. Offered early release, he said, “No.” He’d sworn an oath” (We are supposed to contrast this with Obama “breaking his oath” to adopt public financing for the Fall campaign).

“His philosophy: before party, polls and self … America. A maverick, John McCain tackled campaign reform, military reform, spending reform.He took on presidents, partisans and popular opinion.”

One thing that has bothered me for months about this line of marketing McCain is this: In 2004, McCain was in full throated disagreement with George Bush over the conduct of the occupation of Iraq and the Bush tax cuts at a time of war/occupation. There was a time during that campaign when there was an open question about whether McCain would stay on the sidelines, and not actively campaign for or even endorse Bush. But McCain was approached by Bush operatives and was told if he came off the sidelines, he would get their help in 2008. That chain of events led to this:


It seems to many McCain followers that the Senator did put party and his own ambition ahead of what he was advocating at the time for the country.

John McCain doesn’t always tell us what we “hope” to hear. Beautiful words cannot make our lives better.

Hmmm. This is out of the Clinton playbook of trying to ridicule Obama for being a gifted orator. You know what the thing is about a powerful, well crafted political speech? It moves and captivates people. In the cases of Clinton’s Howard Wolfson and now the McCain campaign, they have foolishly tried, in the absence of their own candidates’ gifts, to ridicule Obama’s gift.

Who workshopped that? Did focus groups actually respond well to criticizing and even ridiculing the obvious gifts of a candidate? It seems like a very poor play to run from scrimmage as the Clintons can attest.

John McCain is correct to emphasize his compelling biography. But as I have said before, one wonders what his captivity has to do with $4.50 a gallon gas and cratering home values. he plays the POW card so much, it gets reduced to yada yada status after a while. And that is a shame.

Don’t “hope” for a better life. Vote for one.

Yikes. Don’t hope? Mario Cuomo, I believe it was, said you campaign in poetry and govern in prose. McCain could use a new writer.

Reader Comments

molly cruz

July 9, 2008 12:25 PM

Anyone who thinks McCain is really running is blind. Why would he? Or They? They've stolen all they can squeeze out of the treasury, destroyed what credibility we had with the rest of the world, created problems so profound it will take generations to solve them, and generations to forget, if ever. They are pretending to run but couldn't deal with it if they won. The smartest thing the Democrats could do is concede, whatever the vote, and leave the Republicans to stew in their own miserable soup. This will be one election the Republicans won't even try to rig, as they want no part of what they will have left for someone else to deal with. The proof will be in the pudding, there will be no reports of election irregularities this time, because they have no use for it. You'll see.....


July 9, 2008 12:35 PM

I'm very surprised to see a photoshopped picture the McCain-Bush hug which makes it seem like McCain's digging for buried treasure. Has businessweek sunken to the level of Fox News?


July 9, 2008 12:48 PM

“John McCain: Shot down. Bayoneted. Tortured. Offered early release, he said, “No.” He’d sworn an oath” (We are supposed to contrast this with Obama “breaking his oath” to adopt public financing for the Fall campaign)."

McCain is treading on thin ice here. If he's going to use the oath he swore and supposedly followed as POW as a sword to attack Obama, the question of whether McCain really followed that oath immediately shoots to the top. My understanding is that McCain's captors nicknamed him "Songbird" and the song he sang went way beyond simply providing name, rank and serial number.


July 9, 2008 1:29 PM

Not sure I agree. Maybe if Obama were more than 2 points ahead of McCain, I'd see that ridiculing his gift would be dangerous. But at this point, teleprompter-delivered speeches seem to be the only situation where Obama doesn't get himself into trouble (did it again today with his Spanish remarks). If the McCain campaign can paint Obama as a guy who is a beautiful performer, possibly more suited for the silver screen than the white house...a scripted only kinda guy... it'll be effective.

If Obama's "vague" speeches become somewhat of a laughing point... which very well could happen with 4 more months to go) he'll be in trouble.


July 9, 2008 3:25 PM

John McCain has a difficult path ahead of him. Historically he has been a maverick (although that's a long way from saying he is a centerist) but his history falls foul of the Republican right wing establishment. His age, his poor speaking skills, his moving back and forth between the center and right (not flip flopping exactly but it could be spun that way easily) all create problems for him. The article is correct in pointing out that we are already getting weary of the POW connection and we have already been bitten once on the fear factor so that's not an easy sell either.

He has tried to label Obama as left wing (liberal no less) and they have moved to try and label him as inexperienced, weak on international issues and are now trying to make his strength in oratory out as a weakness (all talk) and nothing is really sticking.

That Obama seems to have lost his way in trying to address different voter group issues and gotten slightly off message (at least in what is being reported by the media) in terms of change seems to have minimized the damage to the McCain campaign.

The question is, which campaign will establish an effective message first? Obama seems spoiled for choice and McCain seems starved for choice. McCain seems destined to go massively negative sooner rather than later but that means he is likely to lose the middle ground and most of the independents. It does not bode well.

BT Lowery

July 9, 2008 11:19 PM

I don't think that the critique is that he speaks well. The critique the ad suggests is that speaking well is the only thing Sen. Obama has to offer.

I think that critique went over pretty well in the focus groups.

And as far as the last tag line goes, I'm done "hoping" for politicians to get things done. Hope implies that there is nothing we can do about it. It implies that even if we put forth our best efforts, we only might get ourselves out of this.

I don't want hope - I want a man who has seen action and who, given years of experience, knows what it takes to work across the aisle and get things done.

McCain '08


July 10, 2008 4:16 PM

As a president, what can you do to reduce the gas price etc... The economy is running with little intervention of the government. If you study economics, you won't accuse any presidents who fails on economic issues.

Business cycle is a up and down graph, so it will go down when it reaches its peak. It will go up again for every five year.


July 10, 2008 4:58 PM

why is so much made of McCain's refusal to take early release? Consider the following a) he was ordered by senior officer not to take it, b) had he done so he would have been collaborating with the N.Vietnamese propaganda stunt, c)it would have been conduct unbecoming an officer. I am no military law expert but aren't all those court martial offenses. In other words MCCain is attempting to take credit for not doing something that would have got him a court martial. Is this how low we have sunk that just doing the right thing now becomes a qualification to be President.

I think everybody who were wears the uniform of the United States deserves honor and respect. However, not everybody who wears the uniform is hero otherwise the term means nothing.

Jim Hanley

July 12, 2008 9:29 AM

Community orginizer; no major bills passed; no military experience; 150 days of work in the Senate?

Ok let's take John McCain's military service apart.

change to what?


July 12, 2008 1:36 PM

As a captive, McCain missed out on a lot of what was going on during the war on both sides of the conflict. Now, once again, he is missing out on the big picture where this ridiculous election process is concerned. His ship has sailed, not once but twice. And this country, in its' present damaged condition, can do without Methuselah's grandfather trying to tell us anything. And as a senior, I say that with all honesty.

Commie Stooge

July 13, 2008 9:33 AM

If John McCain was a Democrat by now we'd have heard the "Manchurian Candidate" accusation by now.
I'll be that NONE of the Cable TV networks will be showing the 1962 movie between now & election day.

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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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