Barack Obama has been getting lots of advice recently about what to do out on the campaign trail. Since it seems to be "Give Obama Advice Week," I'd like to offer up a campaign ad script.
Part of the problem Obama's been having since Sarah Palin appeared is that he's been playing defense ever since. He needs to go back on the offense on McCain, and drive the news cycle instead of just reacting to it.
There's a simple way to do this. It's actually Politics 101. Since John McCain has been in Congress for decades, he has a voting record just chock full of issues that can be easily made into campaign ads. McCain's record is a goldmine of political stances that average American voters would not agree with.
There are dozens of opportunities to do this, and all it would take would be a few hours of fact-checking to come up with some hard-hitting ads. How about "John McCain voted for earmarks 50 times while in the Senate." Or "John McCain voted against a minimum wage increase 19 times in Congress." Or how about "John McCain says he's for alternative energy now. Why should we believe him? He has voted against alternative energy 99% of the time in the Senate." Or: "John McCain was against honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. with a federal holiday."
Now, I fully admit that I made up those numbers, since I didn't have time to research them all. But there are all kinds of ways to attack John McCain's voting record, and so far I haven't heard Barack Obama even mention it. It's time to fight fire with fire -- point out McCain's most embarassing votes, and paint him as an extremist or a party hack while doing so. Also paint him as anti-middle-class.
This stuff really isn't rocket science, folks.
The biggest recent issue McCain was on the wrong side of is a doozy, because it allows Obama to position himself as stronger on veterans than McCain. John McCain actively opposed Senator Jim Webb's new GI Bill, and then he skipped the vote when it was obvious it was going to pass with a veto-proof majority. Barack Obama should point this out every day on the campaign trail, in the strongest of language.
To kick off this effort, I would suggest the following television ad:
[STOCK VIDEO THROUGHOUT: lots of images of soldiers, veterans, with plenty of flags and other patriotic backdrops.]
[VOICEOVER:] John McCain says he supports America's proud veterans.
[TEXT ON SCREEN:] Straight talk: John McCain does not support veterans when it matters.
[VOICEOVER:] George Bush tried to privatize veterans' health care. And we got the Walter Reed fiasco as a result.
[VIDEO: Photos of decrepit Walter Reed facilities]
[VOICEOVER:] But even after that shame was exposed, John McCain fought Barack Obama and others when they tried to increase funding for veterans' health care. Instead, John McCain wanted to end guaranteed VA health care for all veterans. He called America's promise to take care of her veterans a "burden." Even Bush's VA Secretary called McCain's idea "dangerous."
[TEXT (appears, then zooms slowly, moving to center-right until only "UR" can be seen, right before the fade):] "BURDEN"
[VOICEOVER:] John McCain actually wanted to ration health care for veterans.
[TEXT (appears, then zooms to center, until only the letters "RAT" can be seen, right before the fade):] (Excerpt: Army Times, 7/23/08) "John McCain appeared Tuesday to suggest rationing of veterans' health care may be needed..."
[VOICEOVER:] John McCain has voted against veterans' benefits at least 30 times in the Senate. He voted 15 times in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy instead of providing funds for veterans.
[VIDEO: Casual photo of veteran in front of a university, with books under arm.]
[VOICEOVER:] This year, Democrats in Congress passed a new GI Bill to make sure our veterans can afford college. George W. Bush threatened to veto it. It passed the Senate with 75 bipartisan votes.
[VIDEO: Scary black and white photo of McCain... suddenly a bright red "AWOL" stamp appears over image, cued to voiceover...]
[VOICEOVER:] John McCain was AWOL that day -- he skipped the vote because he was too busy fundraising with California millionaires. John McCain actually called this bill -- which gives veterans enough money for a college education -- "too generous." That's right -- John McCain thought that 75 Senators were being "too generous" to veterans because that's what George Bush wanted him to do.
[TEXT:] Too generous? John McCain didn't stand up to George Bush, even on giving veterans what they've earned. That's not "country first" -- that's "Bush first, veterans second." [FADE]
[TEXT:] John McCain. Wrong on veterans' issues. Wrong for America.
This is just one example of how to turn McCain's voting record against him. Feel free to add your own ad script suggestions in the comments.
[Interesting Note: The Army Times quote appears to have been scrubbed from the Army Times website. Crooks and Liars (among others) excerpted the article the day after it ran (7/24/08). But if you now search the Army Times website for the original story (7/23/08), it has an entirely different lead paragraph -- and, in fact, the word "rationing" appears nowhere in the new version.]
Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com