So it begins. The Obama re-elect machine whirred into action this morning with a mass e-mail to supporters. The formidable Obama apparatus will be well-funded and efficient. But there seemed to me, and my admittedly Republican ears, something a touch off-kilter about the the whole thing. While the President’s e-mail began with a mild denunciation of “TV ads or extravaganzas,” it went on to feature, well, a TV ad. A bit more Washington D.C. slickness to that pivot than I would expect from Obama HQ.
The ad itself is polished and well-produced. And also telling. First, it clearly tips at a smart strategy of playing on GOP turf where possible. The first images are a red painted barn, a church and a middle-class house adorned with a flag. The bulk of the video then features various friendly Americans talking about the pending reelection campaign. Each is from a swing state and represents an important demographic in Obama’s wining coalition. (And ten bucks says at least half are connected to an Obama-supporting union in some way since “real” people in campaign ads are never all that real, but I digress.)
All in all, the video is pretty much the standard stuff one would expect. What did strike me, however, was how defensive the subtext of the ad seemed to be.
Ed, an older white male from the South says “I don’t agree with Obama about everything, but I respect him and I trust him.”
Gladys, a cheerful Latina from Nevada, speaks about the coming election and how she is “kind of nervous about it.”
Mike, a first time voter from New York is looking forward to casting his first vote for Obama. He is not going to miss this chance to turnout and vote. That’s right: TURNOUT AND VOTE you young voters, something you don’t always do.
Alice, an earnest African American woman from Michigan explains President Obama is one person, busy with a job, so he can’t get us all energized and “we gotta figure it out.” You don’t have to be Fellini to figure out what that is all about.
There’s not much confidence anywhere in this epic. Now, Obama partisans will say the purpose of this video is to tell his base of support to saddle up and get ready to work. And they have a strong point. But the wall to wall defensiveness of the thing was surprising to me. It isn’t subtle.
And the one phrase not mentioned at all in the first video message of the Obama re-elect? Health care. Interesting….
Murphy is a Republican political consultant.