Barack Obama, presenting himself as the leader of ordinary Americans struggling to cope with the faltering economy, Wednesday used a half-hour prime-time TV pitch to gently insist that his blueprint for change doesn't make government bigger but “grows the economy and keeps people on the job.”
The program, aired on seven TV networks, including CBS, NBC and Fox, was an effort to paint the Democratic nominee as a caring candidate in touch with ordinary Americans.
It started with brightly lit scenes of farm fields, featured Obama speaking in a setting that closely resembled the Oval Office, and ended with live shots of Obama addressing a crowd of 20,000 in Sunrise, Fla.
“America,” he said, “the time for change has come.”
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Republican rival John McCain scoffed at the show.
“When you're watching this gauzy, feel-good commercial,” he told a Riviera Beach, Fla., audience, “just remember that it was paid for with broken promises.”
Among them, he said, was an Obama pledge to accept public financing in the general election. McCain, like every major presidential candidate since the system was first used in 1976, is taking public money, but Obama isn't. Instead, Obama raised record private donations.
Obama has countered that he said last year that if nominated, “I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.” Public finance does remain in place; Obama simply chose not to use it.
Remember, McCain said Wednesday, that Obama's “word doesn't appear to mean that much. When he tells America tonight that he's going to cut taxes for the middle class, people wonder if he'll keep his word because his record is supporting higher taxes on working families.”
McCain kept firing away later Wednesday evening on CNN's “Larry King Live,” insisting that “Sen. Obama hasn't told the American people the truth. So therefore he now is able to buy these half-hour infomercials and, frankly, is going to try to convince the American people through his rhetoric what his record shows that he's not.”
In his TV commercial, Obama detailed his tax program, as well as his plans to end the war in Iraq, promote energy efficiency and revamp the nation's health care system. He talked straight to the camera at some points and used highlights from speeches in others. The show paraded a wide array of Democratic officeholders before the camera to praise the nominee.