McCain Campaign Smears Have Limited Target Audience: the Media


The McCain campaign has been pretty aggressive over the last few days, trying to manufacture a controversy about the Pentagon blocking Barack Obama’s access to wounded U.S. troops in Germany last week. First there was a disgusting TV ad, which was followed by a deceptive piece today in which the McCain campaign exploited a Black Hawk Down hero.

But there’s an interesting twist in all of this — the campaign has a limited target audience.

John McCain’s current message is heavily focused on Obama’s national security credentials, his canceled troop visit in German, and in general on pushing back against the wave of good press and good images that came out of Obama’s trip.

But McCain’s television advertising campaign doesn’t seem to be matching that message.

Both his first foreign policy attack, released at the beginning of Obama’s trip, and the hard-hitting latest spot, appear to be directed almost entirely at the media and insiders.

The new ad has been aired in the Washington, D.C. and Denver, Evan Tracey, who tracks media buys at the Campaign Media Intelligence Group, told Politico.

Tracey told Ben Smith, “They’re probably one part ads and one part press release. I don’t think these are in any part cornerstones to his message these days — I think they’re really designed to get in the press. They’re airing them just enough so they can put their hands on the Bible and say they’re airing them.”



The McCain campaign is spending heavily on ads blaming Obama for high gas prices — a message so stupid, it’s hard to believe this is actually on the air — but the Landstuhl attacks aren’t.

It is, in effect, a test — the McCain gang wants to see just how much mileage they can get out of a smear, without spending any real money at all, relying only on the media.


Greg Sargent puts the pieces together:

…[T]he McCain camp’s goal is largely to get the ad debated in the press and to drive the conversation that way.
Evan Tracey, who tracks media buys at the Campaign Media Intelligence Group, took a look at the McCain buys and discovered that an earlier McCain foreign policy attack ad, as well as the troop visit attack spot launched this weekend, are running in almost no battleground-state markets, with the new spot only running in Denver and Washington, D.C. […]
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