Party-crashers: McCain, GOP launch counteroffensive at Dem convention

Jake Turcotte/Christian Science Monitor

Who would have known John McCain liked Hillary Clinton so much? It's the second time in 24 hours the McCain team has rolled out a new ad featuring the Senator from New York.

Yesterday, in an ad called, "Passed Over," the McCain team wondered why Clinton wasn't on the Obama ticket. The announcer cleared it up for everyone when explaining, "For speaking the truth on his plans.” The Obama campaign, however, has an alternative explanation.

Today, building on that ad, Team McCain rolled out "Debra." The :30 second spot (see video below) features a former Clinton delegate, Debra Bartoshevich, discussing why she is jumping the fence and going McCain.

"I'm a proud Hillary Clinton Democrat," the exuberant Bartoshevich says. "She had the experience and judgment to be President. Now, in a first for me, I'm supporting a Republican, John McCain. I respect his maverick and independent streak, and now he's the one with the experience and judgment. A lot of Democrats will vote McCain. It's okay, really!"

As GOP strategist Todd Harris explained yesterday, the strategy behind these ads is simple: take advantage of those who feel that Clinton was slighted.

The McCain team is trying to drive the wedge even deeper between Obama and disaffected Hillary supporters. This is a not-so-subtle reminder and suggestion for them that their candidate — Hillary — and therefore by extension themselves, have not been welcomed into the Obama tent.

This may be the Democrats' week, but the Republicans don't want to be left out. So with this ad, which the campaign says will be aired in key states, other likely ads and a GOP "war room" set up about a mile away from the convention site, the Republicans are attempting to get their word out over the Democratic roar from Denver.

Matt McDonald, senior adviser for the McCain campaign, acknowledged to the Associated Press that the Republicans may be outnumbered but they're making a presence anyway.

“The reality is that this is going to be Barack Obama’s week,” says Mr. McDonald. “We don’t have any illusions about the challenges we face in getting our message out, but you can’t expect people to cover you if you don’t show up.”

The GOP has set up an online "war room" as well at featuring the standard: news (not flattering to Obama), responses (a collection of Obama gaffes), and a collection of videos that they market as "speeches you might have missed at the Dem convention."

That's thoughtful, right? Well get this... this isn't entirely honest. These really aren't speeches at the convention. Instead the videos are clips of past Obama rivals disagreeing with Obama, questioning his credentials and explaining why he shouldn't be the next President. Of course, these were videos taken during the primary season when everyone was in full campaign battle mode.

Regardless, the fun starts tonight featuring Barack Obama's wife, Michelle. Click here to read a profile of the potential First Lady from Monitor colleague Amanda Paulson.

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