Cue the prime time spot; Obama’s half hour of TV

WASHINGTON (AP) _ And now, Barack Obama, the TV show.

The
Democratic presidential candidate will take over a half hour of
prime-time television real estate at 8 p.m. Wednesday to make a final
pitch to the nation, an intrepid step with less than a week before Election Day.

The
30-minute infomercial is Obama’s final opportunity to reach a mass
audience to lay out the principles of his governing agenda. Obama
intends to feature his top issues through four different stories of
Americans who illustrate specific national challenges, the campaign
said.

“At this stage, everything that needs to be said has
probably been heard by a lot of voters,” Obama said Wednesday on a
taping of the “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. “And what you want to
do is just remind them one more time, ‘Here’s what I’m going to do,’
not oversell, and let people make up their minds. That’s how democracy
works.”

Obama himself will speak in the video — at times with a
group of voters, at others directly to the audience. The 30 minutes
will end by cutting to a live appearance by Obama in Kissimmee, Fla.,
though the campaign said that would be a small portion of the half-hour
video.

“We’ve seen over the last eight years how decisions by a
president can have a profound effect on the course of history, and on
American lives,” Obama says in one clip from the commercial released by
the campaign. “But much that’s wrong in our country goes back even
farther than that.”

As he narrates, the scenery changes from
clapping hands holding flags to a suburban neighborhood to a freight
train. Obama is seen with a family in their dining room.

The
video features footage shot by Davis Guggenheim, the director and
executive producer of former Vice President Al Gore’s global warming
documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” Guggenheim also produced and
directed the HBO series “Deadwood.” In the commercial, his scenes play
out against a soaring score.

“His campaign is calling this the
phase where he will be making his closing argument,” said Democratic
media consultant Tad Devine, a senior adviser to John Kerry’s 2004
presidential campaign. “This is a tremendous opportunity to make that
argument and to make it at some length.”

McCain was dismissive of the Obama broadcast, deriding it in an ad as a “TV special.”

“As
with other infomercials, he’s got something to sell you,” McCain said
in West Palm Beach, Fla., after meeting with business leaders. “He’s
offering you government-run health care.”

The Obama campaign
bought time on CBS, NBC and Fox for $1 million per network. The ad will
precede the resumption of the rain-suspended Game 5 of the World Series
in Philadelphia. Fox, which is broadcasting the series, decided to
pre-empt its pre-game show for the Obama spot and will start its
baseball coverage after the commercial’s 8:30 p.m. conclusion.

The ad also is scheduled to run on Univision, BET, MSNBC and TV One.

McCain
complained that Obama was only able to pay for such a massive amount of
commercial time because, unlike McCain, Obama bypassed the public
financing system for presidential elections. That permitted Obama to raise and spend more money. Obama initially had pledged to participate in the system if McCain did.

“Just remember it was paid for with broken promises,” said McCain.

The
ad will not appear on ABC because by the time the network decided to
offer the time slot to Obama, his campaign had already finalized the ad
buy, according to people familiar with the discussions who requested
anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

On
the Daily Show, which was to air later Wednesday, Obama said he had to
reassure one of his daughters that the commercial would not pre-empt
all programming.

“I was describing this to Michelle and my
daughters, and Malia, who’s 10, said, ‘Hold up a second. Are you saying
that my programs are going to be interrupted?’ I said, ‘No, we didn’t
buy on Disney.’ So she was relieved.”

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