Obama introduces himself one last time

Barack Obama's 30-minute long ad wasn't thrilling stuff, but it may have achieved the Obama camp's goals anyway.

By Alex Koppelman
Published October 30, 2008 2:00AM (EDT)

If you turned on the TV at 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday night hoping to watch, say, the remake of "Knight Rider" or one of a handful of other shows, you were out of luck. (Let's be honest -- if you were trying to watch "Knight Rider," it's probably best that you didn't get to.)

In a move not since seen Ross Perot did it in 1992, Barack Obama's campaign bought 30 minutes of airtime on multiple networks in order to run a single ad. This represented what will almost certainly be Obama's last chance before Election Night to make his case to a national television audience. All of the broadcast networks, save for ABC, broadcast the spot, as did a few other channels, like the Spanish-language Univision.

The ad wasn't exactly exciting, especially if you've been following the campaign closely. But it was produced well, and its makers did a good job of working in all the things Obama needed in there fairly seamlessly.

The Democratic nominee's weakness throughout this campaign has been that some voters have seen him as foreign -- both un-American and unlike themselves. The Democratic Convention was aimed at correcting that impression by introducing and humanizing him, telling some of his personal story. This did the same thing. Also included were vignettes about various ordinary Americans who told their own stories -- some talked of economic hardship, others of military experience. All of them helped Obama work to convince voters that he is aware of their problems, and that he understands them.

The ad also responded, if only implicitly, to John McCain's attacks on Obama. It was, for instance, larded up with information about Obama's policy proposals. This killed two birds with one stone, at once countering the charge that the Democratic nominee is all talk as well Republican claims about what an Obama presidency would mean.

McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds wasn't impressed, though. "As anyone who has bought anything from an infomercial knows, the sales-job is always better than the product. Buyer beware," he said of the ad.

The full video is below.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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