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McCain's (Borrowed) 3 A.M. Ad

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On Wednesday, Hillary released round two of her 3 A.M. ad (see the original) in Pennsylvania. It uses the same opening footage, the same opening line, and it’s the same 3 A.M. phone-is-ringing scenario. Yep, it’s a recycled ad. The differences in round two: the crisis is not a military one but an economic one (3 A.M. seems to be a busy time of day for a president) and she’s attacking McCain’s economic policies rather than Obama’s.

McCain’s response? Today he is releasing on national cable his own ad. Although his ad looks like her ad. But it’s attacking her so it’s not her ad. Wait, did he re-release her ad? This is too confusing! The ad McCain’s campaign is releasing is the exact footage of Hillary’s ad (her picture being replaced with his, of course) with the narrative of McCain’s campaign.

First impression: that's a weak response. And did he have to use the same crappy 15-year old footage? It looks like McCain's campaign lacks originality and, not that it's any secret, the funds to produce anything original.

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Second impression: those McCain political advisers are pretty clever. By reusing the already recycled ad, McCain's response cancels out the attack. First, it reminds us that the ad is already reused, drawing attention to the fact that she is struggling financially. Second, it shows his quick-thinking creative solutions (it was only a one-day turnaround). Third, it removes the political games from the campaign and leaves room for a clean discussion of the issues. How? Let's say I kick you and then you kick me back. We call it even. But if I kick you and then you punch me, it's on! An original attack is canceled out when it is countered in the same manner.

Think if McCain (or any other candidate, for that matter) were to do this on all campaign-sponsored ads of this nature; every ad would be countered with the exact same ad until there would be no point in making the first attack, leaving the issue itself to be debated--not the attacking. So here's hoping we see 3 A.M. ads until November.

Photo by joseph_j_dangelo via Flickr