American Crossroads, the Karl-Rove-linked group that's set to be a major outside player in this year’s election, has released a new web video that portrays President Obama as “the biggest celebrity in the world,” more concerned with appearing cool than fixing America’s problems.
The ad resembles one put out by the campaign of Sen. John McCain in 2008. That ad too called Obama "the biggest celebrity in the world," while juxtaposing shots of the candidate with images of Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears. It concluded by asking: "But is he ready to lead?"
How much that ad affected voters is difficult to say. But the Morning Joe gang was impressed with the new version.
“That is a strong ad,” said Donnie Deutsch, a Morning Joe regular who founded and runs his own ad agency.
New York magazine’s John Heilemann agreed, saying the ad does three things well.
“Republicans are really good at taking the strength of an opponent and running directly at that strength and trying to turn it into a weakness,” Heilemann said. The ad “tries to take Obama’s likability and his cool, and turn it against him.”
Second, said Heilemann, the ad “runs at [Obama’s] weakness, which is on the economy.”
Finally, he added, it uses humor. “It’s an ad that makes you sort of smile, even if you’re a fan of the president’s,” Heilemann said. “It’s pretty well-executed and it’s done with a nice tongue firmly planted in the check.”
Joe Scarborough was unequivocal. ”Thirty-second ads like this move voters,” he said. “Swift Vets moved voters in ‘04. The Dukakis tank ad moved voters in ‘88. These ads work.”
Those past ads, though, ran on TV in swing states. So far, the American Crossroads ad is online only, American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio told MSNBC, adding that the concept is also being tested for possible use on TV. So for now at least, the ad will be seen by far fewer swing voters than those famed attack ads of campaigns past.
And that leaves aside, of course, the issue of whether the ad’s attacks on Obama’s record are fair -- a question on which opinions will likely differ.