Attacking, Positively

20Aug08

Obama’s on the low-road. But he’s doing it low profile.

Mr. Obama has begun the drive with little fanfare, often eschewing the modern campaign technique of unveiling new spots for the news media before they run in an effort to win added (free) attention. Mr. Obama, whose candidacy has been built in part on a promise to transcend traditional politics, is running the negative commercials on local stations even as he runs generally positive spots nationally, during prime-time coverage of the Olympics.

When you’re running a bait and switch, fooling the eye is critical.

The negative spots reflect the sharper tone Mr. Obama has struck in recent days on the stump as he heads into his party’s nominating convention in Denver next week, and seem to address the anxiety among some Democrats that Mr. Obama has not answered a volley of attacks by Mr. McCain with enough force.

Would the Savior Barack really do such a thing?

“If you can go quietly negative, that’s what he’s done; I think the perception is that he’s still running the positive campaign,” said Evan Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group of TNS Media Intelligence, which monitors political advertising. “It’s a pretty smart, high-low, good cop/bad cop strategy.”

How can he keep it below the radar?

In Philadelphia; East Lansing, Mich.; Green Bay, Wis.; and at least five other major cities, Mr. Obama is heavily showing an advertisement contrasting a statement by Mr. McCain that “we have had a pretty good, prosperous time with low unemployment,” with appearances by people making statements like, “The prices of gas are up; the prices of milk are up.”

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