Obama airs response to Clinton's red phone ad

Talk about rapid response. It's only been a few hours since Clinton's red phone ad was first revealed, and the Obama campaign is already up on air with his answer. The ad (which you can view here) looks very similar to Clinton's: It starts with children sleeping and a phone ringing, with a hurried off voice informing us that "It's 3am and a phone is ringing in the White House." But it then dramatically changes gears.

While Clinton's ad went on to say, "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," Obama's invokes the war: "When that call gets answered, shouldn't the president be the one -- the only one -- who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq War from the start? Who understood that the real threat to America was Al-Quaida in Afghanistan."

On the one hand, the response Obama chose is predictable. At the Ohio debate, Clinton accused Obama of always and systematically referring back to 2002 and Iraq when challenged on national security inexperience, and emphasized her point by explaining how Obama then refused to live on to his anti-war days. Obama's automatic referral to the early call on Iraq in this ad is an illustration of Clinton's point.

On the other hand, Obama's ad admirably distorts Clinton's. Considering that the New York Senator did not just accuse Obama of being inexperienced but did so by invoking imagery that is now increasingly associated with Republican tactics (despite its association with Johnson and Mondale), Obama's reminder of their respective position in 2002 looks like more of a diss than usual.

Then there is the truly remarkable speed of delivery (though the ad's production does look a bit hurried). After all, one of the chief criticisms Clinton's campaign voices against Obama is that he is not prepared to fight and respond to attacks, making him too easy a target for Republicans in the general. By coming around within a few hours, Obama's team is hoping to show it is ready to fight back and that its war room is as good as any.

It would be way overstating the case by a lot to use this ad to dismiss Clinton's contention that Obama is not prepared to fight the GOP machine. The inexperienced charge has been leveled at Obama for months now -- especially on foreign policy -- and Obama has always invoked his opposition to the Iraq War. The question has always been whether he would immediately fight back against a new GOP smear or whether he would fold and wait (like Kerry did in August of 2004). If anything, the campaign's slowness to respond to the controversy over Michelle Obama's comments a few weeks ago is more revealing of how prepared they are. But a few days from March 4th, this rapid turn-around will certainly allow them to boast.

Meanwhile, two new poll were released from Ohio and Texas by Fox News:

  • In Ohio, Hillary Clinton gets her biggest lead of the day, 46% to 38% on the strength of white women and blue-collar voters. Worth noting that the poll gives Clinton a slight lead among independents, which does not accord with most measures we have seen.
  • In Texas, Obama is slightly ahead, 48% to 45%. He has tied his rival among white voters, but Clinton maintains a very clear edge among Latinos -- enough to keep her very competitive.

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