Obama to go prime time as poll says debate boosts appeal

WASHINGTON -- Democrat Barack Obama's campaign said Thursday he is planning a half-hour prime-time ad on network TV on Oct. 29 to promote his presidential bid.

Spokesman Bill Burton said the campaign has bought time on CBS and NBC, plus on Fox if it is not airing a World Series baseball game. He said the Democratic nominee, who has been outspending Republican rival John McCain on TV ads, is also talking to other networks about buying 30 minutes of prime time.

Burton would not comment on what Obama would discuss. McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds declined to outline his candidate's ad strategy, but joked Obama's move "officially marks the end of reality TV."

Campaign commercials are usually 30-second spots, but Obama has done some two-minute ads. In 1992, independent Ross Perot bought 30 minutes in prime time to make his case for the White House.

Obama's prime-time buy comes as McCain continued to stress the Democrat's relationship with Bill Ayers, a 1960s radical tied to the bombings of the Weather Underground. McCain told Wisconsin supporters that "we need to know the full extent of the relationship" between the two men, who served together on a Chicago foundation board.

Obama has stressed that he was a child at the time of the bombings. Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said McCain "would rather launch angry, personal attacks than talk about the economy."

The candidates maneuvered as a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll showed that viewers of the second presidential debate have more confidence that Obama can handle the economy. By a more than a 2-to-1 margin, however, debate viewers have less confidence that McCain can deal with the nation's economic problems.

The poll of 735 debate viewers taken Wednesday, a day after the candidates faced off in Nashville, also showed the debate helped boost confidence in Obama's ability to address defense and foreign policy issues, 33% vs. 27%. McCain, meanwhile, lost ground: 30% now have less confidence in him to handle these issues, which are usually a strong point for the former Navy pilot.

Bounds said it is more important to contrast between McCain's "record of reforming government" and Obama's "partisanship and failed judgment." Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said the poll shows Obama offers "presidential leadership that provides real solutions.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.