The on-screen text in a recent television ad by Barack Obama’s re-election campaign tries to make the point that companies associated with Mitt Romney during his time at Bain Capital sent American jobs overseas. It points out that he has kept money in Swiss bank accounts and in the Carribean. But the Obama campaign has been fostering those attacks for some time. The real point of their new ad is that Mitt Romney can’t sing.
Because while the text about overseas jobs and bank accounts flashes onscreen — for the entire 30 seconds of the ad — the sound that plays is of Mitt Romney singing “America the Beautiful” in Florida just before the January primary there.
There’s a pretty clear subtext to the ad: Mitt Romney doesn’t respect America. He’s sent jobs overseas, though that’s an accusation that has gotten mixed reviews from fact-checkers. But what’s worse, it suggests, he’s mangling this patriotic song.
President Obama, as we all found out earlier that month, can sing. “Let’s Stay Together,” it should be noted, is not a patriotic hymn, but it has become a staple of Obama campaign rallies.
The Romney campaign, for its part, has responded to the Obama TV ad with its own similar web video that accuses President Obama of favoring donors. “I’m so in love with you,” Obama croons, from the Apollo video, in the audio of the Romney video.
The words that flash onscreen: “Lots of love for the donor class. What about the middle class?”
Voters are unlikely to go “American Idol” and suddenly pin their vote on candidates’ vocal abilities. But campaigns have a history of turning uncomfortable moments into defining ones.
There’s the George H.W. Bush campaign ad that suggested Michael Dukakis was going to cut too much money from the Pentagon and it showed the uncomfortable video of Dukakis in an ill fitting tank helmet.
There’s also the George W. Bush campaign ad that used video of John Kerry windsurfing to suggest he was a flip flopper. “John Kerry: whichever way the wind blows,” intoned the announcer.