One superlative is no longer enough for three Democrats running for president in 2008. This summer saw the "change vs. experience" fight pop up between Sens. and , but the stakes are higher in the post-Labor Day campaign season. Now, the two front-runners and are scrambling to prove that they represent change and experience.
All three candidates released new ads this week claiming to have the best qualifications to deliver what they clearly believe Democratic primary voters want most: change in Washington.
Richardson was the first to suggest that Democrats could have it all with his candidacy. In an Aug. 19 debate in Des Moines, Iowa, the , "I think that Senator Obama does represent change. Senator Clinton has experience. Change and experience. With me you get both." His opens by re-stating that theme: "George Bush has made a mess of almost everything. Now we need experience and change. Bill Richardson offers both."
The ad highlights Richardson's diplomatic background and four Nobel Peace Prize nominations and claims that he's the only candidate with a "plan that pulls every single soldier out of Iraq."
Meanwhile, Clinton unveiled a new stump speech in New Hampshire over Labor Day weekend in which she parrots Richardson's debate statement nearly verbatim (a fact not lost on the Richardson campaign, who commented in its press release on "other candidates" who "may be 'borrowing'" the governor's words).
The New York senator makes her Granite State advertising debut with "." The spot begins by stating that Clinton has "spent her life fighting for" change and goes on to detail changes she would initiate if elected president. "We will end this war. We will give health coverage to everyone. We will be energy independent."
The ad closes by addressing the experience/change dichotomy explicitly. "If we have the conviction, she has the experience. If we're ready for change, she's ready to lead."
Obama's ad, released on the same day as Clinton's and also titled "," is running in Iowa, where the Illinois senator is hoping to pick up steam after falling to third place in some . The spot trumpets Obama's successes in taking on the state and federal governments, passing ethics and lobbying reforms. This wasn't done to "score points with the powers in Washington," the ad claims, but rather "because Barack Obama believes government should work for people."
So far, Clinton seems to be winning the fight on both fronts with Democratic primary voters. In a poll released on Aug. 13, a whopping 59 percent of Democratic respondents said that Clinton had the right experience to be president, compared to a mere 9 percent for Obama and 6 percent for Richardson. And 40 percent said that Clinton is the most likely to bring needed change to the U.S., as opposed to Obama's 27 percent and Richardson's 4 percent.