Is John McCain's attempt to use attack ads this week tying Barack Obama to Britney Spears, Paris Hilton and Charlton Heston as Moses the “swift boating” of Obama?
No, experts say; McCain's recent barrage of negative ads and charges isn't as vicious as the 2004 campaign against John Kerry. But the McCain effort, led by Karl Rove protege Steve Schmidt, has the same objective: to demonize a little-known candidate.
“McCain is narrative-building,” said Allan Louden, an associate professor of communication at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. McCain is trying to plant the idea that the Democratic Illinois senator is simply an attention-craving crowd-pleaser.
Tuesday, the GOP issued a Web video mocking Obama's appearance before 200,000 people in Berlin. Wednesday, the campaign began airing the Spears-Hilton spot. A female announcer purrs, “He's the biggest celebrity in the world,” as pictures of Spears and Hilton appear, almost as if they were part of the Berlin crowd.
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Friday, McCain issued a Web video suggesting Obama is “The One,” a figure sent to save the world. The spot included footage of Heston as Moses parting the Red Sea.
Nicolle Wallace, a senior McCain campaign adviser, said the ad wasn't evidence of Rove-like campaigning but a “celebration” of Obama's celebrity and a way to force Obama to talk about issues.