Friday, February 29, 2008

New Clinton Ad in Texas: "Children"

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 325

Hillary Clinton has a new ad up in Texas. The 30-second spot, titled "Children," uses a telephone ringing in the White House at 3:00 AM to dramatize the importance of the president as commander in chief and make the case that Hillary Clinton should be the person answering the call when crises arise.

Here's the script for the ad:

ANNOUNCER: "It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it's someone who already knows the world's leaders, knows the military -- someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?"

CLINTON: "I'm Hillary Clinton, and I approve this message."

And here's the video:

This is the type of ad that we're more used to seeing during a general election campaign than during primary season. I understand the point that the Clinton campaign is making with this ad, and it clearly aligns with her experience message, but I think this ad skirts very close to crossing the line and playing the fear card with voters. The subtext is "if Hillary loses, the terrorists win."

The problem I have with this is that, to my knowledge, Hillary Clinton has never been at the center of an emerging crisis and has never faced the test posited in this ad. Nor has Barack Obama. Nor, I hasten to ad, has John McCain. There are some aspects of the presidency that no one but presidents have been called upon to face. Voters can certainly infer competence from a whatever experiences a given candidate has undergone, and make judgments on that basis about whom they would prefer to trust in a crisis. But to say, as this ad does, that Hillary Clinton, or anyone who has not been President of the United States, somehow knows what it's like to get that phone call at three in the morning is a bit silly. Despite what this ad suggests, I wouldn't lose sleep over it.

But the little trumpet fanfare at the end, trilling as Hillary rides in to pick up the phone and save the day, is cute. Nice touch, Mandy Grunwald!

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