2008 Obama VS. McCain

"Plan for Change"


Museum of the Moving Image
The Living Room Candidate
"Plan for Change," Obama, 2008

OBAMA: In the past few weeks, Wall Street's been rocked as banks closed and markets tumbled.

But for many of you--the people I've met in town halls, back yards, and diners across America--our troubled economy isn't news. 600,000 Americans have lost their jobs since January. Paychecks are flat, and home values are falling. It's hard to pay for gas and groceries, and if you put it on a credit card, they've probably raised your rates. You're paying more than ever for health insurance that covers less and less.

This isn't just a string of bad luck. The truth is, while you've been living up to your responsibilities, Washington has not. That's why we need change. Real change. This is no ordinary time, and it shouldn't be an ordinary election. But much of this campaign's been consumed by petty attacks and distractions that have nothing to do with you, or how we get America back on track.

[TEXT: READ THE WHOLE PLAN: BarackObama.com/plan]

BARACK OBAMA: Here's what I believe we need to do. Reform our tax system to give a $1,000 tax break to the middle class instead of showering money on oil companies and corporations that outsource our jobs. End the anything-goes culture on Wall Street with real regulation that protects your investments and pensions. Fast-track a plan for energy made in America that will free us from our dependence on Mideast oil in ten years and put millions of Americans to work. Crack down on lobbyists, once and for all, so their backroom deal-making no longer drowns out the voices of the middle class and undermines our common interests as Americans. And, yes, bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, so we stop spending billions each month rebuilding their country when we should be rebuilding ours.

Doing these things won't be easy. But we're Americans. We've met tough challenges before and we can again. I'm Barack Obama. I hope you'll read my economic plan. I approve this message because the bitter partisan fights and the outworn ideas of the left and the right won't solve the problems we face today. But a new spirit of unity and shared responsibility will.


"Plan for Change," Obama for America, 2008

Maker: Obama Media Team

Original air date: 09/17/08

From Museum of the Moving Image, The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012.
www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/2008/plan-for-change (accessed April 17, 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.