Obama tries to turn 'celebrity' label on McCain

/ Source: The Associated Press

Barack Obama is out to show that two can play the "celebrity game" with a new ad Monday labeling his Republican opponent John McCain as Washington's biggest celebrity.

The Democratic presidential candidate, vacationing in Hawaii, released an ad, titled "Embrace," that paints McCain as both a regular on the TV talk show circuit and a consummate political insider, chummy with President Bush and lobbyists alike.

"For decades, he's been Washington's biggest celebrity," the announcer says, cutting to a "Saturday Night Live" introduction of the McCain during an appearance on the show.

The ad shows McCain on ABC's "The View" and NBC's "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. And it shows Bush — hugging McCain, being hugged by McCain and kissing McCain on the forehead.

"As Washington embraced him, John McCain hugged right back," the spot says. "The lobbyists — running his low road campaign. The money — billions in tax breaks for oil and drug companies, but almost nothing for families like yours. Lurching to the right, then the left, the old Washington dance, whatever it takes. John McCain. A Washington celebrity playing the same old Washington games."

Celebrities are widely known and often loved by their fans, defined as being a "celebrated person." So what's so wrong with that when you're trying to win a nationwide election?

McCain first used the word in a series of ads that compared Obama to lightweight pop culture celebrities Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. A nice exterior without much substance underneath, the ad implied, not the kind of person you want to entrust your country to.

Hilton's mom called it "frivolous" and a waste of money, but Obama adviser Tom Daschle, the former Democratic Senate majority leader, says the celebrity ads contributed to a dip in Obama's poll numbers.