McCain, Obama Compete in Olympic Ad Wars

By Jennifer Parker

Aug 8, 2008 4:19pm

ABC News’ Jennifer Parker reports: 2008 presidential candidates Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama are going head to head during the Beijing Olympic Games, competing against each other with multi-million dollar ad buys.

McCain, who must blow all of his campaign money before switching to public financing during the convention, has gone for gold in the Olympic ad wars, buying $6 million in advertising. That’s a million more than Obama, who is spending $5 million.

McCain has made advertising history, purchasing the biggest national network buy ever by a presidential candidate. 

"John McCain is continuing an aggressive campaign schedule throughout the week next week where he will discuss the contrast and the choice Americans have in the poll particularly focusing on jobs and the economy," said McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds.

McCain’s latest ad again accuses Obama of being a media sensation, and hits his proposals to scrap President Bush’s tax cut for families making over $250,000 a year.

"Life in the spotlight must be grand," the ad says over images of Obama on magazine covers, "but for the rest of us times are tough…painful taxes, hard choices for your budget. Not ready to lead. That’s the real Obama."

Obama’s ad, which airs on Saturday in all 50 states, touts the Democratic candidate’s proposal for green-energy jobs.

"The hands that built this nation can build a new economy," says Obama’s new 30-second ad.

Obama is on vacation in Hawaii through next week visiting his grandmother. His campaign said the Obama ad is designed to remind voters about his energy plan.

“Though, like the rest of America, we’re all going to be focused on how many golds our athletes bring home, we’ll be working just as hard to ensure that voters are hearing about Senator Obama’s positive vision for our country and our new energy for America plan that provides immediate relief and brings us closer to energy independence,” said Obama spokesperson Nick Shapiro.

Media analysts say the unprecedented combined $11-million presidential candidates’ network ad buy is smart politics.

"This will be the highest amount of eyeballs that are available between now and election day," said media analyst Evan Tracey, CEO of the TNS Campaign Media Analysis Group.

Some 56 million viewers watched at least part of the opening ceremonies of the Athens Games, according to Advertising Age, which first broke news of this year’s 2008 presidential candidates network Olympic Games ad wars.

"This is special event programming," Tracey said, "watching will be all of the demographics the candidates are fighting for — young voter, older voters, blue-collar workers."

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