This week's political ads covered a range of issues, from Barack Obama's connection with the Weather Underground's Bill Ayers to John McCain's support of veterans to Obama's position on gun rights. McCain's ads reflected his new strategy of focusing on Obama's character instead of the economy, while Obama's ads focused on McCain's latest proposals for healthcare and home mortgages.
John McCain: “Ayers”
The Washington Post reported Monday that the McCain campaign was planning to launch an aggressive attack on Obama's character in order to shift attention away from the economy. The main focus of the assault has been Obama's connection to Bill Ayers; the McCain campaign released a statement on the relationship, and Sarah Palin brought up the issue at campaign rallies. At Wednesday's debate, however, McCain didn't mention Ayers. Even one of McCain's aides, Nicolle Wallace, told Fox News during the debate that Americans are worried about "the price of groceries or price of gas, nobody cares about Mr. Ayers." McCain's latest web ad, however, hits Obama hard, saying that he and "domestic terrorist Bill Ayers" are "friends." The ad says that Obama has tried to dismiss the relationship even though the two worked together in running a "radical education foundation." Given Ayers's past as a leader of the "violent left-wing activist group Weather Underground," Obama's "friendship" with him makes him "too risky for America," concludes the narrator. Obama has repeatedly condemned Ayers's past actions. He also said in an ABC News interview, "The notion that somehow he has been involved in my campaign, that he is an adviser of mine, that he—I've palled around with a terrorist—all these statements are made simply to try to score cheap political points."
John McCain: “Dangerous”
After an Obama campaign ad accused the McCain campaign of distracting voters with "dishonorable assaults again Obama," McCain released an ad that calls Obama "dishonorable" for a comment he made about U.S. troops in Afghanistan at a rally in August. The narrator introduces the clip by saying that Obama says troops there are "just air-raiding villages and killing civilians." The full quote from Obama was, "We've got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there." Retired four-star Adm. John B. Nathan responded to the ad on behalf of the Obama campaign in a statement: "Despite consistent distortions of his record, thousands of veterans like myself support Senator Obama because he has the judgment, character, and integrity to be a great president."
Barack Obama: “Taketh”
This ad incorporates footage from Wednesday's presidential candidates' debate to criticize McCain's healthcare plan. A clip from the ad shows McCain promising to give Americans a $5,000 refundable tax credit, followed by a clip of Obama explaining that McCain also will "tax your employer-based healthcare benefits, for the first time ever. So what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away." Obama said in previous ads and speeches that McCain's plan will hurt middle-class families. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds has said that this argument is a "bald-faced lie because John McCain will improve the tax code so that middle-class paychecks aren't used to pay government bureaucrats but instead will pay for the access to healthcare Americans deserve."
National Rifle Association: “Texas Law Enforcement Officer”
This ad features retired Texas police officer Andy Vaquera urging voters to defeat Obama so that families can continue to "defend themselves against rapists, drug dealers, and other criminals illegally crossing our borders." Obama, Vaquera says, will not protect this right; in fact, Obama voted to allow the prosecution of people who use firearms to defend themselves in their own homes. "That's just wrong," the former officer concludes. The Obama campaign has released a response ad, "Life Member", which features NRA member Greg West expressing his support for Obama. The ad says that Obama does support gun rights and citizens' rights to defend themselves.
Barack Obama: “Tested”
In this ad, Obama attacks McCain's new mortgage plan, announced at the last presidential debate, saying that it would "shift the burden from lenders to taxpayers, guaranteeing a loss of taxpayer money." According to the ad, the plan would reward the lenders that "caused the crisis in the first place." At a rally in Ohio, Obama gave the crowd a similar message, saying that the plan "punishes taxpayers, rewards banks, and won't solve our housing crisis." McCain spokesman Bounds said in a statement that the plan represents "no new expense to the taxpayer but simply refocuses priorities to more directly assist the homeowners who are hurting instead of greed on Wall Street."
VoteVets.org: “GI Bill”
This ad from a veteran's advocacy group slams McCain for skipping a GI Bill vote to go to a campaign fundraiser instead. The ad, currently running in Virginia, features an Iraq War veteran, Jason Bensley, who says that while he used to respect McCain, he's "just a Washington guy now" with his "seven houses" and "lobbyist friends." Bensley concludes, "Vet to vet, Senator McCain, when you put money from your rich friends ahead of vets like me, how is that 'Country First'?" John McCain's website details his commitment to veterans, saying that he "has been a leader in Congress, fighting for all those who serve and their families, improving veterans' health care, providing veterans with the benefits they have earned, easing their transition to civilian life, and honoring the fallen."