Sunday, March 9, 2008

The new Obama girl

Presidential Campaign Unintended Consequences Dept: The advertising war between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama got a new twist on Friday. Suddenly the recently launched “3 a.m.” Clinton campaign ad has gained a new visibility, but not for reasons that’ll do Team Clinton much good.

The ad, which proposed a 3 a.m. scenario for trouble in the world — trouble answered by Clinton talking on the “red phone” with those world leaders she knows so well — showed children fast asleep in a hypothetical America, safe in a nation run by the reliable second-place finisher in almost every primary election contest so far.

The ad generated considerable blowback, some of it from an unlikely source. KING-TV, the NBC affiliate in Seattle, reported Friday that Casey Knowles of Bonney Lake, Wash., the first child seen in the ad, is in fact a supporter of Obama, Clinton’s challenger. The Knowles family saw the ad for the first time on Thursday.

“It’s actually really funny,” said Knowles, who’ll be 18 in April.

Stock footage of Knowles in 2000, when she was a television extra, was acquired by Getty Images, the Seattle-based images company, then obtained for the “3 a.m.” ad by the Clinton campaign.

“It’s really sort of ironic,” Knowles told KING-TV, “that my image would be used to advocate for Hillary when I myself do not.”

Knowles, who attended an Obama rally in Seattle and was a precinct captain during the Washington state caucuses in February, was quick to suggest capitalizing on the Clinton misstep. “I think it would be wonderful if me and Barack Obama could get together and make a nice counter-ad,” she said.

In a conference call Saturday afternoon, Obama's campaign manager David Plouffe accepted the endorsement, KING reported. "We think that the young actress in that stock footage who's now supporting us has got sound judgment as to who the strongest commander in chief would be," he said.

It’s emblematic of the Clinton campaign, an example of how it sometimes outsmarts itself. Whatever emotional traction that ad generates in the future, there’s no escaping the delicious irony in this turn of events. What'll that crazy Clinton crew think of next?

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