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Campaign Notebook

Contest asks aspiring filmmakers to create TV ad promoting Obama

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March 14, 2008

Calling all aspiring filmmakers, especially those who like Barack Obama.

MoveOn.org, the influential antiwar group that claims 3.2 million members, announced yesterday that it is holding a contest to create a 30-second television advertisement promoting the Democrat.

The prize: The spot will air nationally and the winner will get a $20,000 gift certificate for a camera and editing package.

After an online vote to pick 15 finalists. The judges include Boston-bred stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, whose low-budget movie "Good Will Hunting" launched them to stardom; filmmaker Oliver Stone; civil rights leader Jesse Jackson; and musicians John Legend, Moby, and Eddie Vedder.

In a Web video announcing the contest, dubbed "Obama in 30 seconds," Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org's executive director, says: "Grass-roots energy helped propel Barack Obama into victory after victory. And now we need your grass-roots creativity to help put Barack Obama over the top."

The group, which has endorsed Obama, held a contest in 2004 for ads opposing President Bush. The winner showed children picking up trash and working on assembly lines with the message: "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1 trillion deficit?"

Entries must show Obama in a positive light, cannot mention Hillary Clinton, and can reference John McCain or Bush only in contrast to Obama.

FOON RHEE

Democrats agree to debate before Pennsylvania vote
Debate fans, mark your calendars for April 16.

The Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns announced yesterday that they have accepted ABC's invitation for a prime-time forum in Philadelphia six days before the crucial primary in Pennsylvania.

It would be the 21st debate of the Democratic presidential race - and the second in the City of Brotherly Love. The first, on Oct. 30, did not go well for Clinton. She stumbled on a question about giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and soon started sliding in the polls after Obama and others accused her of trying to straddle the divisive issue.

Still, she is leading in the Pennsylvania polls, and her campaign said in a statement, "Hillary is prepared to show she has real solutions for the problems facing residents of the Keystone State."

CBS also wants to host a debate on April 19 in North Carolina, which holds its primary May 6. Obama has accepted, but Clinton has not.

FOON RHEE

Clinton condemns remarks by her husband, Ferraro
Hillary Clinton apologized Wednesday night to leaders of 200 black community newspapers for any offense caused by her husband's comments comparing Barack Obama's victory in the South Carolina primary to the Rev. Jesse Jackson's in 1984 and 1988 - remarks widely criticized as belittling Obama's accomplishments.

Clinton told the National Newspaper Publishers Association that she also repudiates and deeply regrets remarks by Geraldine Ferraro, who caused an uproar this week by suggesting that Obama would not be where he is in the Democratic presidential race if he were a white man or a woman of any color. Ferraro, the first woman on a major party presidential ticket when she was the 1984 vice presidential nominee, stepped down from Clinton's national finance committee Wednesday, but not before accusing the Obama campaign of calling her a racist.

Clinton also said she was sorry, on behalf of the entire federal government, for the mishandling of Hurricane Katrina. "I apologize, and I am embarrassed that our government so mistreated our fellow citizens . . . It was a national disgrace," she said, according to an Associated Press account of the meeting.

FOON RHEE

Pelosi says dispute won't alienate blacks, women
The top Democrat in Congress said yesterday that this week's flare-up on issues of race and gender in the nomination race will not alienate the party's important constituencies of women and African-Americans because Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's support extends well beyond those groups.

Asked about Geraldine Ferraro's comments about Obama being where he is partly because of his race, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: "We have to remember how they are perceived by others. And I think that the Clinton campaign moving to - shall we say - put some distance, was very important."

Ferraro stepped down Wednesday from Clinton's national finance committee after the controversy showed no signs of abating after two days.

Pelosi, a California Democrat and the nation's first female Speaker of the House, has chided both campaigns, saying they have been attacking each other too aggressively.

"Sometimes in the enthusiasm of all the people you attract to the process some of the exchange is not at the highest level," Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill.

"I think it, by and large, has been and will return to that level."

FOON RHEE

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