Video: Obama’s hope for differentiating himself

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updated 10/23/2007 4:29:29 PM ET 2007-10-23T20:29:29
AD SPOTLIGHT

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama kicked off a three-day tour in New Hampshire Monday with the release of his third TV ad in the state promoting his message of change and optimism, this time on the issue of foreign policy.

"Conventional" includes clips from a town hall meeting in which Obama uses lofty rhetoric to discuss his foreign policy priorities for the country: "to lead with our values and our ideals by deed and by example." In a line Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet suggested is reminiscent of former President Ronald Reagan's "shiny city on a hill" metaphor, Obama calls the United States "a beacon of light around the world" in the ad. "At least that's what we can be again," he is seen telling a cheering audience. "That's what we should be again."

In the spot, Obama argues that the country needs a new approach to foreign policy. "When we break out of the conventional thinking and we start reaching out to friend and foe alike, then I am absolutely confident that we can restore America's leadership in the world."

"Conventional" is a word the Obama campaign has been using to distinguish the relatively young legislator from some of his more experienced Democratic rivals, particularly front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. Experience, the campaign argues, does not necessarily make someone capable or qualified to lead the country; it can also mean that person is too entrenched in the ways of Washington. In a recent foreign policy speech, Obama declared: "I am not running for president to conform to Washington's conventional thinking. I'm running to challenge it."

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Obama has been ramping up his attacks on Clinton's 2002 vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq and tying it to her more recent vote to label Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. This week the campaign is circulating a mailer in Iowa that states, "While other Democrats voted for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, Barack Obama opposed another Bush foreign policy fiasco."

After officially filing for New Hampshire's primary race on Monday, Obama told a crowd of about 500 supporters, "It's time for real change, and it's gonna start right here in New Hampshire." Although he currently trails Clinton in state polls, Obama enjoys rock-star popularity in the Granite State, which his campaign is confident will translate into votes, particularly among independents.

Return of the poster child
The House couldn't override President Bush's veto of a bill expanding the State Children's Health Insurance Program, but continued media attention and promises from Democrats that they will bring the bill to a vote again have kept the issue alive. Meanwhile, supporters of the bill have turned to a tried-and-true advertising strategy to get their message out: the poster child. Video: Bethany’s story

Three weeks ago, congressional Democrats promoted SCHIP with the story of a 12-year-old boy who received life-saving care through the program, liberal group Americans United for Change aired an ad claiming Bush was vetoing children, and protesters brought their kids along to demonstrations in front of the White House. This week, MoveOn.org Political Action is following suit with a new TV ad that features a young girl whose life was saved with the help of SCHIP funding. The spot will run in the districts of six Republican representatives considered particularly vulnerable next year: Marilyn Musgrave, Colo.-04; Randy Kuhl, N.Y.-29; Tim Walberg, Mich.-07; Ric Keller, Fla.-08; Tom Feeney, Fla.-24; and Sam Graves, Mo.-06.

The ad opens with shots of 2-year-old Bethany Wilkerson frolicking on a beach as an announcer explains how SCHIP helped her parents pay for a critical operation. "Republicans in Congress are helping President Bush block health care for children like Bethany," the ad goes on to say. In criticizing the Bush veto, the ad follows the now-familiar formula of comparing the cost of health insurance with the cost of the war in Iraq and concludes by urging viewers to pressure their representatives directly.

MoveOn.org spokeswoman Jennifer Lindenauer said the ad is intended to force lawmakers to change their minds and approve the SCHIP expansion, but she also acknowledged that the issue could be useful for unseating Republican representatives. "These members of Congress are going to be up for re-election next year," she said, "and their constituents deserve to know how they voted."

Copyright 2012 by National Journal Group Inc.

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