John McCain’s campaign has decided to start some trouble between the Democrats just as they’ve gathered for their convention in Denver. Their new ad, “Passed Over”, asks why the woman who received 18 million votes for the nomination never even made it to the short list for the VP nomination. Team McCain’s answer? The ego of Barack Obama couldn’t handle it:
ANNCR: She won millions of votes. But isn’t on his ticket. Why? For speaking the truth.
On his plans:
HILLARY CLINTON: “You never hear the specifics.”
ANNCR: On the Rezko scandal:
HILLARY CLINTON: “We still don’t have a lot of answers about Senator Obama.”
ANNCR: On his attacks:
HILLARY CLINTON: “Senator Obama’s campaign has become increasingly negative.”
ANNCR: The truth hurt. And Obama didn’t like it.
When I first heard that the McCain campaign was going to make Hillary’s freeze-out an issue for an ad, I was a little skeptical that it would be effective. It might undercut the Democrats making the same argument in Denver, which could end up stifling dissent and hardening their resolve to show unity with or without Hillary on the ticket. An ad like this could make dissenters look explicitly like McCain stooges.
However, the McCain team found the right formula in this spot. Instead of just focusing on the injustice Hillary received, the ad makes it about Obama and his inability to deal with her criticisms. This calls into question Obama’s leadership and his ability to separate the personal from the job — as well as refloat all of the specific issues Hillary mentions in these clips.
Will this be effective in attracting former Hillary supporters in the Democratic Party? Perhaps. If that’s really McCain’s aim, how much more likely will he be to select Sarah Palin as his own running mate — a move that would give them a real reason to jump ship? Palin may not have a lot of experience, but she has a year and a half more of executive experience than either Obama or Joe Biden … and on a McCain/Palin ticket, the mentor would be in the top half.
Update: Cuffy Meigs has a rundown of women with executive experience who could make interesting outide-of-the-box choices for McCain’s running mate. Palin gets top billing, but Cuffy thinks Meg Whitman (eBay’s transformative CEO) and Carly Fiorina could get a boost. Picking a candidate with serious executive credentials in the private sector would help boost McCain on economic questions, too. When attacking Obama on the economy, a great line could be: “Who will you trust more — two Senators with no private-sector experience, or a proven CEO?” That could favor Whitman …. or Mitt Romney.