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updated 8/1/2007 1:52:59 PM ET 2007-08-01T17:52:59
AD SPOTLIGHT

On the same day that he's working to up the ante on foreign policy with a counterterrorism address, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama is also getting back to basics.

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A TV ad launching today in Iowa showcases the Democratic presidential candidate as an agent of change, which has been the overarching message of his campaign. It's well-timed to the pulse of Congress, too, after the House overwhelmingly passed a major ethics reform bill Tuesday.

The ad also stresses Obama's roots as a government reformer. After discussing his team's widely touted decision to deny contributions from PACs and lobbyists, the spot includes a clip from his February announcement speech in which Obama said special interests "think they own this government, but we're here today to take it back."

And, as in his TV advertising debut in late June, Obama's strategists portray him as someone who's above partisan bickering and can move legislation forward by bringing both parties together.

That strategy might be working, because the press is starting to bite. A month after the campaign's initial plug describing him as a bipartisan leader in the Illinois Senate, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece calling Obama "pragmatic and shrewd" and "a strategist willing to compromise to accomplish things." A similar storyline has been reported in a number of major news outlets.

Obama has faced far more scrutiny for his short time in the U.S. Senate. It remains to be seen whether this ad -- which tells voters that "in the [U.S.] Senate, Barack Obama challenged both parties to pass tough new ethics rules and rein in the power of lobbyists" -- will generate the same kind of positive coverage.

Richardson Tries To Carve Out Niche On Energy
Considering New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's (D) service as energy secretary during the Clinton administration, it's not a surprise that he's decided to plug his energy plan in a new 30-second spot running in Iowa.

What isn't as clear is why Richardson doesn't mention that he held the office. Perhaps he's trying to minimize any links to the Clintons given New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's large lead in the Democratic primary race.

The spot doesn't directly call up any of his rivals, but it does mention that the Sierra Club said his proposals were "much more aggressive." On his Web site, which the ad urges viewers to visit for more on the plan, part of the environmental group's statement reads: "There is one presidential candidate with enormous depth on the issue, and he's just raised the bar on all the rest."

-- Questions, comments or suggestions concerning Ad Spotlight can be sent to adspotlight@nationaljournal.com.

Copyright 2012 by National Journal Group Inc.

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