“What Happened, Cindy?”

John Amato has the Obama campaign’s latest ad, responding to John McCain’s two recent attack ads, here and here.

It’s not just Obama supporters who are criticizing McCain’s recent ads:

John Weaver, for years one of John McCain’s closest friends and confidants, has been in exile since his resignation from McCain’s presidential campaign last year. With the exception of an occasional interview, he has, by his own account, bit his tongue as McCain’s campaign has adopted a strategy that Weaver believes “diminishes John McCain.”

With the release today of a McCain television ad blasting Obama for celebrity preening while gas prices rise, and a memo that accuses Obama of putting his own aggrandizement before the country, Weaver said he’s had “enough.”

The ad’s premise, he said, is “childish.”

“John’s been a celebrity ever since he was shot down,” Weaver said. “Whatever that means. And I recall Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush going overseas and all those waving American flags.”

Weaver remains in contact with senior McCain strategists and, for a while early this year, regularly talked to McCain.

The strategy of driving up Obama’s negatives “reduces McCain on the stage,” Weaver said.

Yes, but McCain is already a very small man, so perhaps he feels there is no downside to further diminishing his stature. Which means the only legitimate question, for him, is, Will it work? Chris Cillizza gets some reactions from Republican pollsters:

Scott Howell, a leading Republican media consultant, praised the commercial as “very fair and accurate”, adding: “Just because a car looks like a Ferrari doesn’t mean it will run like one. McCain has to get voters to look under the hood and if he can I think they’ll see they are being sold a ‘kit car’ with a VW engine.”

John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster, said the ad was effective but, in doing so, also offered an implicit criticism of the commercials that had come before it. “They need to have a stronger concentration of effort and focus on this issue and several subsequent issues to win a majority of the vote,” McLaughlin said. “Hopefully
this is the start of an aggressive issues debate through election day.”

Other members of the Republican consultant community were far less sanguine in their estimate of the ad’s effectiveness.

“Sigh,” emailed one senior party strategist who later added: “Every Obama ad since his announcement has fit nicely into a theme, an argument. McCain ads are just catch as catch can, one wild swing at Obama after another. Their increasing bitterness reflects a campaign that is more about some sort of therapeutic frustration venting for the staff than any coherent strategy to elect McCain. It’s unprofessional to the core.”

Another high-level party operative grumbled: “It seems like they are talking to the press pack, not voters.”

Cross-posted at Liberty Street.

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