After a week of arguing over a Reverend Jeremiah Wright–themed ad that won't even be released, another prominent Republican group is releasing a commercial that's the total opposite. While the campaign considered by TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts would have launched a racially charged attack against President Obama, the new spot from Crossroads GPS, a group founded by Karl Rove, is far more subtle, and possibly a smarter move against a president who many voters refuse to despise.
The new ad, which was obtained by the New York Times, is titled "Basketball" and focuses on a mom worrying about her family's future as she transforms into an older woman in a matter of seconds thanks to some creepy aging makeup. She laments that she supported President Obama in the last election "because he spoke so beautifully. He promised change, but things changed for the worse." Thanks to Obama's policies, her adult children now live at home and spend their days happily playing basketball together because they can't find jobs.
The ad (which is available here) is the result of a tremendous amount of testing with swing voters. The spot shares the same tone (and a good deal of dialogue) with last year's "Wake Up" ad, which tested higher than any other Crossroads commercial.
Ricketts's rumored plan to smear President Obama backfired, and Crossroads' research confirmed that swing voters didn't respond to attacks on President Obama's integrity. The latest ad distorts the truth as well, but it's cloaked in a more subdued tone. USA Today's story "Survey: Health insurance costs surge in 2011," which is mentioned in the commercial, actually notes that, according to Office of Management and Budget figures, only about one percent of the increase in health costs was due to so-called Obamacare. The "report" referenced in the L.A. Times headline "Stimulus program fraught with waste, report says," was put out by Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and immediately disputed by the White House, which called his data flawed and ideologically driven. Yet, the ad is still far more savvy than American Crossroads' previous effort, which made the argument that President Obama is too cool and charming for his own good.