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Campaign Notebook

McCain ad promotes service, attacks Obama's rhetoric

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July 9, 2008

Barack Obama, who, at 46, is barely a baby boomer, has often said that the country needs to move beyond its Vietnam-era cultural divides and come together for the future.

But the past - particularly the Vietnam War - holds great currency for John McCain, who makes clear in his newest TV ad that he intends to mine those very divisions for political advantage.

The new minute-long spot highlights McCain's military service, namely his 5 1/2 years in captivity as a prisoner of war in North Vietnam. The message is one McCain has hit before: While many of America's youth were partying at Woodstock, he reminds us, he was being tortured on account of his service to America.

"His philosophy: Before party, polls, and self - America," the announcer says.

But the ad, which McCain's campaign says will run on national cable and in key states, is also a sharp attack on Obama's rhetoric. "Beautiful words cannot make our lives better," the announcer says. "But a man who has always put his country and her people before self, before politics can."

And then the kicker: "Don't hope for a better life. Vote for one. McCain."

SCOTT HELMAN

Obama, McCain spar over energy policy in new ads
Barack Obama's campaign yesterday released an ad that seeks to "set the record straight" on his energy policy, which is targeted in a Republican National Committee ad now airing in four Midwestern swing states. Obama's ad will air in the same four states: Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Taking inspiration from the James Bond villain, the RNC ad casts Obama as Dr. No on energy reform: "He just says no to lower gas taxes, no to nuclear, no to more production."

Obama's ad, which shows McCain and President Bush hugging at a joint appearance, says that on gas prices, McCain is "part of the problem" and criticizes him for embracing a drilling plan that "won't produce a drop of oil for seven years." Obama, the narrator promises, would raise mileage standards, embrace alternative fuels, and generally make energy independence "an urgent priority."

LISA WANGSNESS

Obama picks Clinton aide to direct women's outreach
Barack Obama tapped Dana Singiser, Hillary Clinton's director of women's outreach, to head his efforts to win female voters. Yesterday's move indicates Obama is seeking to bridge the gap between Clinton's constituents and his own after the hard-fought Democratic primary race.

"As president, Barack Obama will work to make life better for women," Singiser said. "Senator Obama will fight to keep our right to choose and will work hard to ensure that women are given equal pay for equal work because it is wrong that women still make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes."

"I am proud to be part of this campaign, and I look forward to uniting women throughout this country to help elect Barack Obama president of the United States."

Although exit polls don't exist for all of the Democratic primaries, Clinton won the female vote in 20 states to Obama's 16 in contests where the data were available. Clinton also enjoyed a 20 percentage point advantage among women in 10 of those states, according to The New York Times.

Clinton, who has supported Obama since suspending her campaign, expressed support for Singiser's move.

"I am thrilled that Dana will continue her work with women voters on behalf of Senator Obama," Clinton said. "It is so important that we elect a Democrat to the White House, and women will be critical in that effort. I know that the women who joined my campaign will continue to work with Dana and with me to make sure Barack Obama is the next president of the United States."

In addition to culling female voters, Singiser has some experience with a grass-roots presidential campaign, having worked on Howard Dean's 2004 bid for the Democratic nomination.

JASON TUOHEY

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