Don't Touch That Dial: A Message From the President of the United States Wannabes

Millions of TV viewers saw Sens. Obama and McCain in primetime Wednesday.

Oct. 29, 2008 — -- With only five days remaining in the campaign, the presidential candidates took primetime TV by storm Wednesday, hoping to persuade remaining undecided voters.

Rolling in campaign dough, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., spent millions of dollars on a 30-minute closing argument infomercial, which aired on six broadcast and cable networks. Watch it HERE.

He also taped an appearance on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," set to air later this evening. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. -- who, as of two weeks ago, had $40 million less than his rival left to spend -- used only free media to get his message out, including an appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live."

The half-hour Obama commercial featured a mix of stories from ordinary Americans, politicians vouching for Obama, inspirational campaign video and the candidate himself laying out his plans on the economy, health care, energy, education, foreign policy and other issues.

"I'm reminded every single day that I am not a perfect man," Obama says in the Davis Guggenheim-produced video. "I will not be a perfect president. But I can promise you this: I will always tell you what I think and where I stand. I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you when we disagree. And most importantly, I will open the doors of government and ask you to be involved in your own democracy again."

Democratic Govs. Ted Strickland (Ohio), Bill Richardson (New Mexico), Tim Kaine (Virginia) and Kathleen Sebelius (Kansas) all spoke on behalf of Obama.

"This guy is special, because I think he can bring people together, because he's a good, decent man that understands the world through his background," Richardson said of Obama.

"Think of this: Barack Obama is going to be a Democrat in the presidency who actually cuts taxes. But he's going to cut taxes for the people who really need a tax cut," Strickland said of Obama's plan to cut taxes for families making less than $250,000 a year and individuals who make less than $200,000.

Obama's Senate colleagues Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., along with running mate Joe Biden, D-Del., also made appearances.

The half-hour block ended with a live rally in Sunrise, Fla., where Obama asked a screaming crowd for help.

"In six days, we can come together as one nation, and one people, and once more choose our better history," he said. "And if, in this last week, you will knock on some doors for me, and make some calls for me, and go to and find out where to vote; if you will stand with me, and fight by my side, and cast your ballot for me, then I promise you this: We will not just win Florida, we will not just win this election, but together, we will change this country and we will change the world."

The Obama infomercial aired on CBS, Fox, NBC, MSNBC and cable channels targeted toward blacks and Hispanics.

The Obama camp held close the content of the infomercial, revealing only a sliver of the ad in the form of a one-minute trailer to the New York Times, and then to broadcast media outlets in time for network evening newscasts.

Obama's half hour of television also came up during McCain's interview with King.

"Frankly, what's disturbing about it is that [Obama] signed a piece of paper back when he was a longshot candidate," McCain said. "And he signed it, said I won't -- I will take public financing for the presidential campaign if John McCain will.  I mean, it's a living document."

McCain was referring to Obama's answer of "yes" on a "Common Cause" questionnaire when asked, if nominated for president and his opponent agreed, would he participate in public financing. The senator reversed course on the pledge after it was clear his eye-popping fundraising could give him tens of millions of dollars more than McCain.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day in Palm Beach, Fla., McCain tried to make the Obama network buy seem grandiose, calling the spot a "gauzy, feel-good commercial" that was "paid for with broken promises."

With an 8 p.m. ET start time, Obama's production was the lead-in to Fox's World Series coverage, and McCain chided Obama for buying the network while the fall classic was on the schedule.

"It used to be that only rain or some other act of God could delay the World Series, but I guess the network execs figured an Obama infomercial was close enough," McCain said.

Fox Broadcasting denied that the Obama ad delayed the start of the game, saying only the Joe Buck-led pre-game portion of the broadcast was affected, a network executive told Politico.

Candidates spend the biggest amount of their campaign cash on television advertising. Propelled by record-breaking fundraising, Obama is on his way to spending more than $200 million on television ads during his general election fight with McCain. As of Oct. 17, Obama had spent $167.3 million on ads during his general election compared to McCain's $107.9 million, according to the ad tracking firm Campaign Media Analysis Group.

There's also free media that the candidates use to get out their message. That's why McCain was slamming Obama on taxes during the Wednesday talk with King.

"Sen. Obama clearly has talked about for years, redistributive policies," McCain said. "And that's not the way we can create wealth in America. That's not the way we grow our economy. That's not the way we create jobs.

"And when small business people see that half of their income, half of the income of small businesses, is going to be taxed by Sen. Obama, then they're very upset with it," McCain said.

McCain knows that recent polls show Obama has gotten the upper hand on taxes, and McCain has argued his plans to reduce taxes and cut wasteful spending, as he has attacked the Obama economic plan as a promise of wealth redistribution.

According to a Comedy Central transcript of "The Daily Show," with an easy setup from host Jon Stewart, Obama jokes about his white half being confused about who to vote for.

"Are you concerned in some respects -- I don't know how to bring this up," Stewart said. "Your mother is from Kansas, father African: Are you concerned that you may go into the voting booth and -- "

"I wont know what to do," Obama joked.

" -- Your white half will all of a sudden decide, 'I can't do this!'" Stewart said.

"Yeah," Obama said. "It's a problem. ... I've been going though therapy to make sure that I vote properly on the 4th."

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.