2008 Obama VS. McCain

"Defining Moment"


Museum of the Moving Image
The Living Room Candidate
"Defining Moment," Obama, 2008

[TEXT: Barack Obama]

OBAMA: At this defining moment in our history, the question is not, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" We all know the answer to that. The real question is: will our country be better off four years from now? How will we lift our economy and restore America's place in the world? Here’s what I'll do as President.

[TEXT: www.BarackObama.com/plan. The Obama Plan]

[TEXT: A rescue plan for the middle class]

OBAMA: To deal with our current emergency, I’ll launch a rescue plan for the middle class That begins with a tax cut for ninety-five percent of working Americans.

[TEXT: The Obama Plan Tax cut for 95% of working Americans]

OBAMA: If you have a job, pay taxes and make less than two hundred thousand dollars-a-year, you’ll get a tax cut.

[TEXT: Families making less than $200,000 get tax cut]

OBAMA: I’ll end the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give them to companies that create jobs here in America.

[TEXT: End tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas]

OBAMA: And I’ll make low-cost loans available to small businesses.

[TEXT: Low-cost loans for small businesses]

OBAMA: To build our economy for the future, I'll focus on our urgent national priorities: reducing the cost of health care...

[TEXT: Reduce the cost of health care]

OBAMA: ...Breaking our dependence on foreign oil...

[TEXT: Break dependence on foreign oil]

OBAMA: ...And making sure that every child gets the education they need to compete.

[TEXT: Education to help children compete]

OBAMA: How will I pay for these priorities? First, we've got to stop spending ten billion dollars a month in Iraq – while they run up a surplus.

[TEXT: Stop spending $10 billion a month in Iraq]

OBAMA: I’ll end this war responsibly, so we can invest here at home.

[TEXT: End the war in Iraq responsibly]

OBAMA: We'll monitor the Wall Street rescue plan carefully, making sure taxpayers are protected and CEOs don't game the system.

[TEXT: Protect taxpayers, not CEOs]

OBAMA: I'll let the temporary Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% expire and close the corporate tax loopholes the lobbyists put in.

[TEXT: Close corporate tax loopholes]

OBAMA: I'll order a top-to-bottom audit of government spending...

[TEXT: Audit government spending]

OBAMA: ...And eliminate programs that don't work.

[TEXT: Eliminate programs that don’t work]

OBAMA: We face real challenges, and they won’t be easy to solve. But we can do it if we end the mindless partisanship, the divisiveness, curb special interest power and restore our sense of common purpose.

[TEXT: Barack Obama, President]

OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama. I approve this message and ask for your vote because if we stand together, we can meet our challenges and ensure that there are better days ahead.


"Defining Moment," Obama for America, 2008

Maker: Obama Media Team

Original air date: 10/25/08

From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012.
www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/2008/defining-moment (accessed July 18, 2024).


To link to or forward this video via email, copy and
paste this URL:


2008 Obama McCain Results

The 2008 election, which resulted in the selection of the first African-American president in the nation's history, was about change. Polls indicated that more than 80 percent of likely voters felt that the country was on the wrong track or moving in the wrong direction. For the first time since 1952, there were no candidates on either major-party ticket who have served as president or vice president.

As in 2004, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were important issues, yet foreign policy was strongly overshadowed by the economy when the credit and mortgage crisis hit full force in September. Other economic concerns included health-care costs, energy policy, gas prices, and rising unemployment. From the primary campaigns into the general-election contest, candidates positioned themselves as agents of change. Normally it is the party out of power in the White House that calls for change. In 2008, both parties claimed to offer “change,” as opposed to “more of the same.”

The candidates made these claims in an ad war that was unprecedented in its quantity and cost. Ads were created in rapid-response fashion, timed for the increasingly fast-paced news cycle. Also, as a reflection of the shift in popular culture toward the provocative tone of the Internet, which relies on bold statements and humor to inspire “forwardability,” the 2008 ads were noticeably sharper and more aggressive than that of previous elections.

Barack Obama for president
Joseph Biden for vice president

"Change We Can Believe In."

Barack Obama’s campaign created a number of positive ads that emphasize such words as “values” and “work,” portraying him as someone whom working-class voters can feel comfortable with. While Obama’s ads tended to be more positive in tone than McCain’s, there were also a large number of attack ads. Just as President Clinton’s 1996 ads linked Bob Dole with Newt Gingrich, nearly all of Obama’s attack ads linked John McCain with President Bush, whose approval ratings are extremely low. By linking McCain to Bush, the Obama campaign successfully undercut McCain’s image as an independent maverick.
John McCain for president
Sarah Palin for vice president

"Country First."

John McCain’s ads were mainly about Barack Obama. Following the pattern of the 2004 election, the Republican campaign used its ads to define the Democratic candidate. In addition to attempting to portray Obama as a liberal Democrat who favors tax increases, the ads also tried to suggest that he is a celebrity who isn’t ready to lead. However, with the selection of Sarah Palin as the vice-presidential candidate, the message was refined. Rather than focusing on the question of experience and readiness to be commander in chief, the later McCain ads claimed that Obama was a dangerous choice because we don't know enough about him.