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Barack Obama 'infomercial' expertly done, little impact likely

October 29, 2008 |  8:31 pm

Chances are, tonight's 30-minute Barack Obama infomercial will have minimal effect on the final outcome of the 2008 presidential election. Obama_2

Those leaning against the freshman Illinois senator were unlikely to be swayed by it (or even watch it).

The ranks of the truly undecided, meanwhile, have shrunk in most polls. And how many of those bothered to tune in to the first program-length ad by a presidential candidate since Ross Perot flipped budget charts in 1992?

That said, the Democrat and his message makers certainly gave it their best shot to appeal to those open to conversion but lacking a comfort level with the prospect of a President Obama. (A complete text of the infomercial's script and the full 27-minute video is available by clicking here.)

Wondering about his patriotism and his commitment to defending the nation?

The extended commercial opened with an image of amber waves of grain. And, as its recorded portion neared an end, retired Army Brig. Gen. John Adams testified to the "courage and the judgment" he believes Obama would bring to the job of commander in chief.

The ad ended with a perfectly timed cut to Obama appearing live before an audience in Florida for a final few sound bites.

"America, the time for change has come," he declared, sounding a theme that has driven his candidacy from its start in early 2007. And in urging voters to "choose hope over fear, unity over division," he summarized what, for many of his supporters, has been his most powerful appeal.

In between, the expertly photographed, poignantly told stories of "average" Americans that gave the ad its pace and served to set up Obama's domestic policy prescriptions touched key demographic bases.

The first, for instance, spotlighted a white, middle-class woman in the swing state of Missouri whose family is struggling to make ends meet. Not coincidentally, Obama strategists ...

... long have viewed strong support from white women voters as essential to their victory scenario.

As befits a front-runner's status, Obama saw no reason to spend any time during the half-hour directly attacking John McCain. Indeed, the Republican's name was never uttered.

We were struck by another omission. Several prominent Democrats had cameos in the ad -- Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, among them. Conspicuously absent (at least to us) -- Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York.

Obama also can expect some zingers for speaking frequently during the ad from a setting evocative of the Oval Office (except for the wood paneling).

Backdrops have been problematic for his campaign -- the columns that framed his nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention were subjected to ridicule; the Oval Office motif will fuel McCain charges that Obama is taking for granted the outcome of Tuesday's election. And there was the Great Seal of Obama he used on the lectern one time.

Then again, if he was taking victory for granted, why pay for 30 minutes of prime-time television?

-- Don Frederick

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Photo credit: Associated Press 

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