Obama’s Prime Time TV Pitch

By Jennifer Parker

Oct 28, 2008 9:55pm

Barack Obama will make his closing arguments in a half-hour of prime time television Wednesday night.

This is going to be more like a television show, rather than a speech, top Obama campaign officials tell ABC News.

We’re going to see a "lively half-hour of television," one Obama aide told ABC News, speaking only half tongue-in-cheek.

Watch George Stephanopoulos’ analysis of the campaign tonight on Nightline tonight at 11:35pm ET on ABC

Obama sources say we’re likely to see Obama at the top of the half hour program and at the bottom of the show talking about his agenda.

However the rest of the time you might see other people, like a Warren Buffett or a Colin Powell, and other people the Obama campaign calls "validators" to give testimony on why Americans should vote for Obama.

The last presidential candidate who had this kind of money to run a prime time TV address was Ross Perot, who ran as a third-party candidate in 1992 and 1996.

In his infomercial, Perot tried to appeal to voters on the economy, saying "Let’s raise the hood and go to work, let’s diagnose the problem. I can tell you before we look at the engine, a engine tune-up won’t fix it,"

But unlike Perot, we’re not likely to see Obama sitting behind a desk for a half hour.  Like Perot, Obama is going to focus more on his policy agenda, and less on his biography.

The McCain campaign thinks this half hour may be a reprise of Obama’s Berlin speech, and they argue it could go a little too far and will be a little presumptuous.

Spending millions of his vast campaign war chest, Obama’s program will be broadcast on CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox at 8p.m. on Wednesday night.

It’s unclear whether Obama will be making any new arguments. He’ll likely be repeating the same things he has said before but may reach voters who have been checked out of the election.

This may reach voters who haven’t been paying that much attention to the campaign. On the whole they are less partisan, more independent and moderate.

Obama is leading John McCain 52-45 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll.

Our latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds there is only about 2 percent of Americans who are truly undecided, and those people are not likely to vote.

There is another group of about 10 percent voters called "movable voters" who tell pollsters that they’ve made their decision but could change their minds.

This is the group that McCain is really hoping to reach over the next six days.

The profile of the ideal McCain voter right now is an older, white woman who is stressed economically, a top McCain aide tells ABC News. These voters may be pulled toward Obama on economic issues but are leaning toward McCain on social issues and like his war-hero, prisoner-of-war biography.

The McCain campaign is hoping that if these people have held off from supporting Obama for this long, they’re not likely to now.

However McCain really has to reach in to more than just undecided voters right now. He really has to move and change some minds in these next five days.

The McCain campaign is buoyed by some movement in the polls toward him on the issue of the economy, but he still has a long ways to go with little under a week left.

McCain has eroded some of Obama’s lead in voter trust to handle the economy but Obama still leads his Republican rival by 9 percentage points, according to the latest ABC/Post daily tracking poll, down from an 18 point lead a week ago.

–George Stephanopoulos

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