In the wake of this week's devastating financial crisis—the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the sale of Merrill Lynch to Bank of America, and the bailout of AIG—Barack Obama and John McCain released competing ads outlining their proposed solutions and attacking each other on the weaknesses of their plans to fix the economy. McCain also hit Obama hard on his connection to two former Fannie Mae CEOS, while Obama attacked McCain on his lobbyist ties.
This ad released by the Obama campaign attacks McCain's character and the "disgraceful, dishonorable" campaign that the Obama campaign says McCain is running. It quotes editorials and op-eds that say McCain is "running the sleaziest ads ever" and shows a clip showing McCain pledging not to "take the low road to the highest office in this land." The ad says that "deception" is the only strategy McCain has left to use in this campaign. It was released the same day that Joe Biden, Obama's VP candidate, spoke in Michigan and said, "The campaign a person runs says everything about the way they'll govern." In response to the ad, McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said in a written statement, "As Americans face economic uncertainty, it is clear that Barack Obama would sooner hurl insults than discuss his record of seeking higher taxes during a down economy."
The McCain campaign released this ad Monday, immediately following the announcement that the investment firm Lehman Brothers was filing for bankruptcy. The ad is mostly positive and does not directly refer to Obama. The narrator says that only "proven reformers" like McCain and Sarah Palin can fix the economy, through "tougher rules on Wall Street" and "no special-interest giveaways." In response to the ad, Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement, "John McCain has been in Washington for 26 years and hasn't lifted a finger to reform the regulations that could've prevented this crisis."
Barack Obama strays from the traditional campaign ad formula in "Plan for Change," talking directly to voters for two minutes (instead of the usual 30 seconds) on his plan for the economy. He tells voters that we need "real change" because "while you've been living up to your responsibilities, Washington has not." Obama says we need to move past the "petty attacks" that have consumed the campaign and work on a plan to "get America back on track." He says his plan includes reforming the tax system, ending the "anything goes" culture on Wall Street, cracking down on lobbyists, and bringing the war in Iraq to a "responsible end."
In another economy-themed ad, McCain speaks directly to voters, like Obama does in "Plan for Change." Unlike Obama's ad, "Foundation" is more hard-hitting and directly attacks Barack Obama, saying his "only solutions" to the economic crisis are "talk and taxes." McCain promises that he will "reform Wall Street and fix Washington" and establish economic security for American workers who are "the best in the world."
In this ad, Obama seizes on the comment McCain made regarding the financial crisis that he still thinks "the fundamentals of our economy are strong." The ad flashes messages about the recent crisis to illustrate its severity and then asks on the screen, "How can John McCain fix our economy if he doesn't understand it's broken?" The same day that the ad was released, Obama said at a rally in Colorado, "Senator McCain, what economy are you talking about?" McCain clarified his comment the morning after he said it at a rally in Florida, saying, "My opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals, the American worker and their innovation, their entrepreneurship, the small business, those are the fundamentals of America, and I think they're strong."
In this ad, McCain attacks Obama on his connections to Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines. The ad cites a Washington Post article that says Raines advises Obama, who "has no background in economics," on "mortgage and housing policy." Under Raines, the ad also cites an article that says under Raines, Fannie Mae committed "extensive financial fraud" and made millions while Fannie Mae collapsed, leaving taxpayers "stuck with the bill." Raines has issued a response to the ad denying his involvement with the campaign: "I am not an adviser to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters," Raines said. Obama spokesman Bill Burton said, "This is another flat-out lie from a dishonorable campaign that is increasingly incapable of telling the truth. Frank Raines has never advised Senator Obama about anything—ever."