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AdWatch: Obama emphasizes election's high stakes
AdWatch: Obama ad emphasizes high stakes of presidential election, differing economic policies
By The Associated Press


LENGTH: 60 seconds.

AIRING: In Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

KEY IMAGES: With soft music playing in the background, President Barack Obama speaks directly to the camera, wearing a dark suit, dark tie and a white shirt. Around the midway point of the ad, the footage shifts to clips of Obama in action meeting with workers, standing near solar panels, talking with voters around a dinner table, writing in an office before returning to more of Obama speaking directly to the camera. The ad fades to black and an image of the campaign's slogan, "Forward."

Obama's narration emphasizes the stakes of the election: "Over the next four months, you have a choice to make," he says. "Not just between two political parties, or even two people. It's a choice between two very different plans for our country. Gov. Romney's plan would cut taxes for the folks at the very top. Roll back regulations on big banks. And he says that if we do, our economy will grow and everyone will benefit."

Obama continues: "But you know what? We tried that top-down approach. It's what caused the mess in the first place. I believe the only way to create an economy built to last is to strengthen the middle class. Asking the wealthy to pay a little more so we can pay down our debt in a balanced way. So that we can afford to invest in education, manufacturing and home-grown American energy for good middle-class jobs. Sometimes politics can seem very small. But the choice you face? It couldn't be bigger."

ANALYSIS: Of late, both campaigns have lamented how nasty and trivial the presidential ad wars have gotten. President Barack Obama's new ad is notable because it has a more civil tone than his campaign's recent advertising efforts and yet is still a direct shot at his all-but-certain GOP opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

By speaking directly to the camera, Obama puts his credibility on the line more so than in other ads, which use images and narrators. Attacks delivered personally are much more likely to be associated with the candidate. Here, Obama avoids topics like Romney's tax returns, use of offshore tax havens or actions taken by the company Romney founded, Bain Capital, all of which have been the subject of recent ads from his campaign. The idea here is to present Obama as serious and to frame the election as being about serious issues.

Having Obama speak directly to the camera also seeks to leverage the president's likeability. Despite a saggy economy and middling approval ratings, Obama consistently rates highly when voters are asked if he is likeable.

The language Obama uses, framing the election as being "not just between two political parties or even two people," is also an attempt to reestablish the president as a high-minded politician, not someone engaged in the muck and mire of an election. He presents his own spin on what the choice between himself and Romney means for the country.

The president's facts are mostly correct. Romney has said a key part of his economic plan would be to cut taxes for everyone, including the wealthy, and make tax cuts first implemented by President George W. Bush permanent. It's debatable whether, as Obama says, the policies Romney supports "caused this in the first place." Obama is clearly trying to portray Romney as a continuation of Bush's economic policies, policies that polls show voters still largely blame for the country's slow recovery.

Obama's ad implicitly maintains that the only way to pay for things like education, manufacturing and energy production is by taxing the rich. Romney and his campaign maintain that is a false choice.

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