Clinton's retro "phone" ad draws rapid response

Charlie Burr

Couldn't see this one coming:

Which is perhaps why within the same news cycle the Obama team responded with:

[Hat tip to Hot Curry.]

And as has been widely noted, the Clinton ad strongly resembles this 1984 spot from the Mondale campaign:

[Hat tip to Politico.]

Which took on this form during Bush's re-election campaign in 2004:

But no discussion could be complete without the gold standard of modern political advertising:

Finally, Bill Clinton's law of fear vs. hope from just four years ago:


  • jamie (unverified)

    Too bad it's come to be a debate of whether it's experience or good judgment that matters. Of course that's a false frame; both matter. These binary distinctions amount to pandering and both candidates are going that way.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)

    Last election cycle we saw, what was it 17 days?, between the Swift Boat ad and the response. This gives witness to what the Democratic Party, well at least one candidate, is capable of this election cycle.

    The Republicans and the 527's will have themselves up ended by negative campaigning this year. Finally.

    That's real hope. Measurable, definable, and proven experience.

  • (Show?)

    What pleases me most about this episode is the reaction of the Obama team. A strong response in less than 12 hours up on the air. This team has really grown in the last year and will run a tough campaign against McCain in the Fall. Remember when the meme was that Obama was too nice a guy and we needed to support Hillary because she was tough enough to fight the right wing nuts. Obama has shown that he can and does respond instantly and with a punch. This is no John Kerry campaign.

    As Democrats we should be pleased that so far this primary has strengthened both candidates and resulted in a much stronger campaign organization on the Obama side. Can't say the same thing about the Clinton team because they have run a miserable campaign although I think she has gotten better as a candidate. If we can avoid any lawsuits over delegates in Texas, Florida, and Michigan the party should be in excellent shape in the fall.

  • (Show?)

    Amazing job of jujitsu on the part of the Obama team.

    If how these campaigns are being run is any indicator of which candidate is more qualified to step in and run things on day 1, there can be no question that it is Obama, and not Clinton, who is better prepared.

  • (Show?)

    Steve and John are exactly right. It took more than 12 months for the Clinton campaign to get around to this ad and less than 12 hours for the Obama team to knock it out of the park. Democrats are hungry to win this year above all else, and this ad exchange shows Obama up to the task of taking on whatever the Republicans dig up in the fall.

    The Clinton folks are inadvertently right about one thing: the Texas and Ohio primaries this Tuesday will be a battle won or lost over the phone. If Clinton was looking to galvanize hundreds of thousands of Obama phonebankers, remind voters of her negative campaigning, and give Democrats a preview of how we win the general election, mission accomplished.

  • Pat Malach (unverified)

    ha ha

    Do ya think Bill would like to have that last one back? Choose hope over fear, eh. Looks like he'll be voting for Obama.

  • Randy2 (unverified)

    Great post, Charlie. I first saw that Clinton ad on Bill Moyers last night (an excellent program discussing various ad strategies of the candidates). Finishing with the Bill Clinton fear vs hope clip iced the cake of shamelessness of the Clintons.

    My first thought was - straight from the Karl Rove fear box.

  • Devarshi (unverified)

    I agree, I love the fact that Obama was able to respond so quickly. I also think it's great the Hillary is kind of inoculating him against these same attacks for the general election. By the time McCain uses the same attacks, people will think they've already moved past these issues.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    I can't imagine that Hillary, that picture of temperamental stability, inspires such a feeling of safety in people. So are we to believe in those 8 years of being first lady that she was the "go-to" person when a security crisis emerged? Are we to believe that Laura Bush is the one the National Security Advisor and the military call at 3 AM to defend the country? All that great experience....

  • William Neuhauser (unverified)

    Can't add much to Calhoun and Peralta's observations, which mirror my own, but I was intrigued by the Clinton campaign's choice of phone -- I immediately thought, "what an antique". So perhaps the goal was to cement her base of older white women supporters, not trying to reach outward.

  • joel (unverified)

    the Clinton campaign's choice of phone -- I immediately thought, "what an antique". So perhaps the goal was to cement her base of older white women supporters, not trying to reach outward.

    That interpretation is entirely sensible, as the CLinton sampaign obviously views this as a war of attrition....

  • LT (unverified)

    Did Hillary support the original Nunn-Lugar legislation or the more recent one involving Obama and Lugar? Smart of Obama to have Lugar's name in a headline on that ad.

    Hillary voted for the war resolution, voted for Kyl-Lieberman, yet we are supposed to trust her more than Obama?

  • BCM (unverified)

    Sorry, wrong number.

  • Matthew Sutton (unverified)

    Good thinking Hillary. If it got Walter Mondale elected President, why not try it!

  • (Show?)
    What pleases me most about this episode is the reaction of the Obama team. A strong response in less than 12 hours up on the air. This team has really grown in the last year and will run a tough campaign against McCain in the Fall.

    No DOUBT. It was a spectacle. They'd already rebutted in much less than 12 hours...if it took 3 I'd be surprised. The most brilliant thing to me was he didn't waste any effort putting all three together: "Clinton gave the wrong Answer. BUSH gave the wrong answer. MCCAIN gave the wrong answer." Could he have been more parsimonious and devastating?

    The ground stories I'm hearing out of Texas and Ohio are just unreal. They have outhustled, outsmarted and COMPLETELY outplanned the Clinton team. How ironic that Obama's machine turned out to be the overwhelming force in the race. He's ready.

    I can't get the song from this Texas mashup out of my head this weekend:

    The vid is great (masher's first ever, they did a great job timing the pictures to the song!), but the song is just PUMPING and so emblematic the emotions Obama is tapping into. It's by Amerie, and it's called Get to Work

    Sometimes you gotta work hard for it!

  • (Show?)

    Are we to believe that Laura Bush is the one the National Security Advisor and the military call at 3 AM to defend the country? If that were the case we would almost certainly be living in a much happier, safer, rational world than the one her husband has wrought.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    The Mondale red phone ad helped him beat back Gary Hart's surge in '84. A Mondale focus campaign group revealed that voters favored him as Commander in Chief over Hart, and the ad did the trick in contrasting their experience.

    The trouble for CLinton is that when she focusses on foriegn policy, it takes us back to the unpopular war that she supported.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    In Hillary's phone call ad the implication is that she is asleep and is awakened at 3:00 am. Did anyone notice that before she answered the phone she took time out to get dressed and do her make-up? I don't want someone answering the phone at anytime who is more concerned with her or his appearance than why someone is calling at that hour.

  • paul (unverified)

    "One of Clinton's laws of politics is, if one candidate is trying to scare you, and the other one is trying to make you think, if one candidate's appealing to your fears, and the other one's appealing to your hopes. You better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope."

    Bill Clinton, Oct. 2004

    [Editor--This comment underscores why we encourage folks to first read the original post.]

  • (Show?)

    Maybe someone else already commented on this, but what the Clinton ad brought first to my mind was LBJ's horrible "Daisy Girl" ad:

    "Daisy, sometimes known as Daisy Girl or Peace Little Girl, was a controversial campaign television advertisement. Though aired only once (by the campaign), during a September 7, 1964, telecast of David and Bathsheba on The NBC Monday Movie, it was a factor in President Lyndon B. Johnson's landslide defeat of Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election and an important turning point in political and advertising history. Its creator was Tony Schwartz of Doyle Dane Bernbach. It remains one of the most controversial political advertisements ever made.

    The advertisement begins with a little girl (Birgitte Olsen) standing in a meadow with chirping birds, picking the petals of a daisy while counting each petal slowly. (Because she does not know her numbers perfectly, she repeats some and says others in the wrong order, all of which adds to her childish appeal.) When she reaches "9", an ominous-sounding male voice is then heard counting down a missile launch, and as the girl's eyes turn toward something she sees in the sky, the camera zooms in until her pupil fills the screen, blacking it out. When the countdown reaches zero, the blackness is replaced by the flash and mushroom cloud from a nuclear explosion.

    As the firestorm rages, a voiceover from Johnson states, "These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God's children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die." Another voiceover (sportscaster Chris Schenkel) then says, "Vote for President Johnson on November 3. The stakes are too high for you to stay home."

    (Lest we forget, there have been Democratic politicians more ruthless than either of the Clintons.)

  • (Show?)

    Yes, the ad which I now see was posted in the series.

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