John Edwards’ celebration of working people

By Jennifer Parker

Nov 1, 2007 12:15pm

The presidential campaign of former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, has launched a new TV ad in Iowa called "Heroes."

Watch it HERE.

In the 60-second spot, Edwards says, "if you’re looking for heroes, don’t look to me. Don’t look to Elizabeth. We have support. We have health care. We have the American people behind us. Look to them. They are the ones who we speak for. They are the ones that we stand up for."

Edwards says his campaign is about fighting for working people.

"It is time for our party, the Democratic Party, to show a little backbone, to have a little guts, to stand up for working men and women. If we are not their voice, they will never have a voice."

The images of the "heroes" are: white man farmer, white woman in front of house, Latina waitress pours coffee for white woman, white mom kisses white son, white farmer couple, white woman in hospital scrubs helping white patient, Elizabeth Edwards hugging white cancer survivor (I think?), white man by door, white men working on tractor, white woman, white man sitting on tractor, white man with moustache.

I’m not one to watch an ad with an abacus counting off minorities, and I realize this is an ad aimed at Iowa. But it seemed a little odd to me, frankly, for a 60-second (that’s long) ad targeted at Democratic primary voters focused on "the American people" — in a campaign focused on poverty — to not have one single African-American.

Now, I originally raised this question this morning in a post that said the ad featured not one single person of color. The Edwards campaign says that is inaccurate, that the waitress is Latina. I stand corrected, and I apologize for the error. My bad, 100%.

But that said, the so-called "optics" of the ad are still overwhelmingly white — and while the waitress may be obviously a member of a minority group to you, she wasn’t to me.

It’s not that I think every ad from every candidate needs to include a member of a minority group — though, rest assured, decisions about those matters are made. Ads like these aren’t just thrown together.

Every image in ads is selected carefully; you may recall the "DemocRATS" moment in a Bush ad in 2000. It was tough to find a campaign image of then-Gov. Bush back then where he wasn’t surrounded with little black children — his attempt to paint himself as a compassionate conservative.

But this ad isn’t just any ad. It’s about how the true heroes in this nation are the American people – and not one of the 17 working-class heroes featured is black.

And this comes on the heels of some Edwards language on electability that has been interesting, to say the least.

–jt

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