Ad Watch

05.24.12

Obama Releases Pair of Positive New Ads Vying for Support of Seniors, Vets

Call it a break from negative campaigning. Team Obama's new ads tout the president’s record on Medicare and veterans. But the break from negative campaigning is unlikely to last, says Daniel Stone.

Seniors and veterans. Two demographic groups that can swing an election, and that both candidates want to win in November.

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Seeking to change the debate after a strategic super PAC ad from Republicans, the Obama campaign released two ads Wednesday, both aimed at winning more votes, rather than critiquing the president’s opponent. The arguments in both spots are simple, and at first blush, don’t appear terribly political at all. They’re simply reviews of Obama’s efforts and what he views as achievements on health care and foreign policy.

“To you and your loved ones, Medicare is personal. And to a president raised by his grandparents, it’s personal too,” the soft-voiced female announcer says. We’re then peppered with statistics of ways Obama has cracked down on Medicare fraud and staying committed to keeping the program intact.

The accompanying ad focuses more on the commander-in-chief role Obama plays over the military. “It’s because of what [the troops] have done that we’ve been able to go after al Qaeda and go after Bin Laden,” Obama says in this one, personally highlighting some accomplishments. He mentions the importance of making sure the troops and vets receive the best Medicare care, and the benefits they’re entitled to when they’re home.

If it sounds like a listing of Obama’s resume in two key areas, it is. And strangely, nowhere in either ad is there any mention of his opponent, Mitt Romney, or even that there’s an election coming up.

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That’s because on both issues, Obama’s campaign is confident that it doesn’t need to attack Romney, at least not yet. Obama’s record is clear, the White House has said. Ending the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and also killing bin Laden, create a high bar for Romney to credibly critique. And with the House Republican budget’s stated plan to sunset Medicare as it’s currently known, Obama’s support of reforming the program stands largely in contrast.

Romney’s team vows not to lie down to such statements. Certainly, Romney has attacked Obama on his health-care law. And on foreign policy, Romney has tried to neutralize Obama’s achievements by saying that, on issues like bin Laden and the war in Libya, Obama made the same decision any president would have made. “Even Jimmy Carter,” Romney once said.

Both ads are accompanied by longer versions (here and here) and  online, with Obama supporters affected by his policies explaining why they’ll support him this fall. “President Obama has my support; he’s for people like me,” says one of them, Mike McCarry, a Vietnam vet.

Romney’s and Obama’s campaigns have both focused recently been more softball, after seeing negative spots and attacks fall largely flat with independent voters. In one recent ad, Obama’s campaign referred to Romney’s private equity firm as a “vampire.” In others, Romney has dinged the president’s economic record.

Yet despite the more nuanced, soft-tone round of ads from both campaigns, there’s reason to believe the mud will soon return. The president and his campaign signaled this week that Romney’s record at as a private-equity manager would be a major focus. And on each of the six remaining first Fridays of the month until the election—the day when monthly economic and jobs data are released—we can expect to hear Romney give a stinging rebuke of the president’s performance.