McCain's new ad goes green

John McCain keeps up his pitch for independent voters with a new commercial about global warming.

Published June 17, 2008 2:26PM (EDT)

Watch John McCain's newest campaign ad, and you'd be hard-pressed to say which party plans to nominate him for president later this summer.

The commercial, titled "Global," starts out like an attack ad aimed at smog, traffic and all things hazardous for the environment, with alarming images flashing on the screen before a sun sets in heavy haze. Then soft, comforting Muzak comes up behind a woman's voice, reading a script that makes clear what the answer to all those problems is: McCain.

"John McCain stood up to the president and sounded the alarm on global warming, five years ago," the narrator says. "Today, he has a realistic plan that will curb greenhouse gas emissions. A plan that will help grow our economy and protect our environment." Those black-and-white shots of clogged highways and polluting factories from the opening are gone, replaced by nice color images of windmills, blue sky, water flowing over a dam, a worker assembling a truck (could it be a hybrid?) and, finally, McCain himself, standing on a windy bluff, looking like Mark Trail as he surveys the wilderness around him.

"Reform. Prosperity. Peace," the narrator purrs. "John McCain."

If there is still any doubt that McCain is aiming for independent voters (and, as his campaign continues to insist, disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters) in the early stages of the general election, the spot ought to dispel it. Global warming is one of the areas where McCain has most fiercely clashed with his fellow Republicans -- for one thing, unlike many GOP lawmakers, he believes it's happening. He announced a cap-and-trade plan for carbon emissions in Oregon last month, hoping to win points from independent voters in the Pacific Northwest who care about the environment. Critics said his record in the Senate wasn't as different from the Bush administration's policy on climate issues as McCain wanted voters to believe, but the plan bought him some breathing room from the White House in press coverage.

Clearly this new ad, which will be on the air in selected battleground states and on nationwide cable channels, is looking to do the same thing. The timing is certainly interesting -- as the ad goes live, McCain will be giving an energy speech in Houston where he calls for off-shore oil drilling.

Watch the ad here:

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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Global Warming John Mccain R-ariz.