You can't escape with a degree in political communications without becoming intimately involved with at least one of the trilogy of defining moments in campaign TV: The "Daisy" ad, the Checkers Speech, and the Dukasis downfall, Willie Horton. The man behind one of the ads about the furloughed felon-turned-rapist (not the slick ad, the um, more basic one) has brewed up a serving for the new millennium — and it's aimed right at Barack Obama.
Pointing a finger at an Obama vote against extending the death penalty to gang-related murders, conservative activist and producer Floyd Brown is fund raising to get his encore ad on the airwaves. Currently running on his website ExposeObama.com, the ad aims to draw a parallel between Obama's crime vote and the war on terror saying, "when the time came to get tough, Obama chose to be weak. . . . Can a man so weak in the war on gangs be trusted in the war on terror?"
Though presidents have little to do with issues of crime, safety is a theme that resonates with voters. To see Brown's thoughts on Obama, and the original Willie Horton ad,
There are many, many different votes that Barack Obama has taken over the course of his state Senate career that are going to show him to be absolutely missing in action when it comes to the question of controlling violent crime. If he thinks it is not a significant issue, then he should talk to Michael Dukakis.
Obama's campaign and others dispute the way the ad suggests that Obama's vote made him responsible for the gang-related deaths of three youths. FactCheck.org has called the death penalty ad "reprehensible misrepresentation." Obama recent record appears focused on addressing what he sees as the root causes of crime, including doing away with or modifying laws that set mandatory minimum sentences like those in drug cases. McCain has maintained a tough-on-crime position for decades, including strict sentencing and a focus on the rights of victims.
Does this new ad pack heat — or is the connection drawn, tenuous at best? Will this "Horton" hear a who?