Negative Ad Wars Over Obama ‘Celeb’ Status

By Jennifer Parker

Jul 30, 2008 12:50pm

ABC News’ David Wright reports: The McCain campaign says its new ad comparing Barack Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is fair and balanced.  The Obama campaign and its supporters clearly don’t agree.

“It’s beyond dispute that he has become the biggest celebrity in the world,” McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt explained to reporters today.  "But do the American people really want to elect the biggest celebrity in the world?"

Asked why the campaign chose these particular celebrities to compare with Obama, campaign manager Rick Davis answered matter of factly, as though the comparison were obvious and indisputable: "What we decided to do was find the top three international celebrities in the world.  Britney and Paris came in second and third," he said.

But perhaps the Hilton family won’t appreciate the irony of the ad? Those political junkies over at TMZ.com discovered that Rick and Kathy Hilton, parents to Paris, are McCain donors.

The Obama campaign initially responded to the ad with a twist on a Britney Spears classic.  Said spokesman Tommy Vietor: “On a day when major news organizations across the country are taking Senator McCain to task for a steady stream of false, negative attacks, his campaign has launched yet another. Or, as some might say, ‘Oops! He did it again.’"

And later this afternoon, the Obama campaign fired back with a new ad of its own. See it HERE.

The Obama campaign ad ignored the pop princess comparisons and instead hammered at McCain for his "attacks on Obama" and taking "the low road." Under a photograph of McCain with President George Bush the narrator says: "John McCain. Same old politics.  Same failed policies."

McCain campaign officials say they are not worried that voters may perceive the ad as another negative attack from their candidate.  Or as sour grapes that their candidate, who has traveled widely, does not seem to draw such large crowds.

“I’d love to think that john McCain was a big international celebrity, but he’s not," Davis said.  "We see him more as a global leader than a global celebrity.”

UPDATE: Tit for tat, Obama supporters are firing back at the McCain campaign for comparing their candidate to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton in a new campaign ad — pointing to McCain’s penchant for wearing $520 Ferragamo designer shoes.

"I’m just saying if you want to launch attacks about celebrity and out of touch, maybe you shouldn’t do it while wearing $520 shoes," Eddie Vale of the DC-based Progressive Accountability.org emailed reporters.

Vale included an item from the Huffington Post website highlighting the swish new loafers McCain has been sporting on the campaign trail. 

For instance, he wore them to his meeting with the Dalai Lama and during his ill-fated visit to a Bethlehem, PA, grocery store when jars of Mott’s Applesauce knocked over by a stock clerk went toppling to the floor right next to McCain.

Luckily for the candidate, the applesauce appeared to miss the Italian calfskin loafers.

As Huffington Post points out, McCain’s black monk strap "Pregiato Moccasins" feature "tonal topstitching, silvertone hardware, and a Gancini bit and strap over vamp" (whatever that means).  They’re made by the Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo and retail at Niemann-Marcus for $520.

"What better way to show his American pride than to tour the country in Italian leather?" chided Huffington Post blogger Isabel Wilkinson.

(Full disclosure: I also happen to be wearing Ferragamo loafers today.  But I got them on sale in Milan some years ago.  And I certainly didn’t spend $520.)

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