2008 Obama VS. McCain

"Man in the Arena (Web)"


Museum of the Moving Image
The Living Room Candidate
"Man in the Arena," McCain, 2008

[TEXT: The Time Has Come]

WINSTON CHURCHILL: We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender!

McCAIN: Keep that faith, keep your courage, stick together, stay strong, do not yield, do not flinch. Stand up, we're Americans, we're Americans and we will never surrender. They will.

[TEXT: For a Man in the Arena]

THEODORE ROOSEVELT: With all my heart and soul, I pledge you my word to do everything I can, to put every particle of courage and common sense and strength that I have, at your disposal. Surely there never was a fight, that are worth making, that nobody wish we are in.

[TEXT: Ready]

McCAIN: I know who I am, and what I want to do, because I don't seek the office out of entitlement. I owe America more than she has ever owed me.

WINSTON CHURCHILL: Never give in; never give in, never, never, never. In nothing, great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force, never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

[TEXT: More Than Aspiration: Leadership]

McCAIN: I've been an imperfect servant of my country for many years. I've never lived a day, in good times or bad, that I haven't been proud, proud of the privilege. Don't tell me what we can't do. Don't tell me we can't make our country stronger in the world, safe. We can, we must, and when I'm President, we will. Thank you and God bless you and God bless America.

[TEXT: McCain – President 2008]


"Man in the Arena (Web)," John McCain 2008, 2008

Maker: Foxhole Productions

Original air date: 03/03/08

Video courtesy of John McCain 2008.

From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012.
www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/2008/man-in-the-arena-web (accessed May 25, 2024).


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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.