AdWatch: Obama's new TV ad, 'Unprecedented' 

TITLE: "Unprecedented."

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

AIRING: On national cable and broadcast and cable stations in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

KEY IMAGES: The ad opens with the words, "Secretive oil billionaires attacking President Obama," showing a small image of an ad aired by GOP-leaning outside group Americans for Prosperity that criticizes Obama's connection to the Solyndra bankruptcy. The Obama ad hits back, claiming the other ad is "not tethered to facts."

Obama is then shown sitting in the Oval Office, speaking with two advisers. "President Obama's record on ethics ... Unprecedented," the ad says, citing Common Cause and the League of Women Voters. The ad scrolls through images of workers wearing hard hats installing solar panels and electric wind turbines rotating at dusk.

The words "2.7 million clean-energy American jobs" are superimposed on solar panels, citing a report by the Brookings Institution followed by the words "expanding rapidly." A woman is shown pumping gasoline into a nondescript gray car and an offshore oil platform is blanketed by a setting sun. The ad then says American dependence on foreign oil has fallen below the 50 percent mark, citing data from the Energy Information Administration in May 2011.

The ad cuts back to Obama sitting at his desk in the Oval Office, with the words, "President Obama 'kept a campaign promise to toughen ethics rules,'" citing fact-checking organization Politifact from Jan. 21, 2009. Obama is then shown in a field of solar panels, talking to two men.

ANALYSIS: "Morning in America" this is not. The first ad of President Barack Obama's re-election campaign avoids the typical sunny re-introduction of an incumbent president, instead offering a stern defense of Obama's record on energy and ethics.

The spot, airing in the days surrounding Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, responds to a hard-hitting ad accusing the president of overseeing pay-for-play politics with bankrupt energy company Solyndra. That ad was aired by Americans for Prosperity, a group with ties to the billionaire energy moguls Charles and David Koch, in the same states where Obama's ad is appearing.

By citing "secretive oil billionaires" attacking the president, the ad aims to drum up Obama's most ardent supporters who have assailed the Koch Brothers' bankrolling of conservative causes. The $2.5 million ad buy is running in six states Obama carried in 2008 and remain critical to his re-election prospects.

California solar panel manufacturer Solyndra imploded last year even though it had received a $528 million federal loan guarantee from the Obama administration under a 2009 stimulus law. More than 1,000 jobs were lost in the bankruptcy. House Republicans have questioned the connection of two major Obama donors to Solyndra, one with a large investment in the company and another who helped monitor the loan guarantee program.

Obama's ad aims to recast the Solyndra storyline by touting the administration's work to bring more transparency to government and develop renewable energy jobs and cut the nation's dependence on imported oil.

Yet some of the citations listed in the ad could be misleading.

Politifact initially found that Obama kept his campaign promise on toughening ethics rules, but later updated its verdict because of concerns over former lobbyists receiving waivers to return to government under Obama's watch. Politifact changed its rating to a "Promise Broken," yet the ad simply cites the first finding.

The Brookings Institution study refers to 2.7 million workers currently employed by the clean economy — not the number of jobs created by Obama, which a viewer might interpret from the ad. The report found that "clean economy establishments" added half a million jobs between 2003 and 2010, comprising six years of the Bush administration.

The report said the industry was "expanding rapidly at a time of sluggish national growth" but found the growth of the clean energy economy had been "depressed by significant policy problems and uncertainties."

Lastly, the Energy Information Administration's report found that U.S. dependence on foreign oil had dropped below 50 percent — but it said there was "no single explanation for the decline." It attributed the trend to a "significant contraction in consumption" that "partly reflects the downturn in the underlying economy after the financial crisis of 2008."

If viewers were expecting a feel-good start to Obama's campaign on the airwaves, this is not the ad. In a new age of super PACs spending millions on advertising, they could see campaigns playing more defense on TV throughout the campaign.


Analysis by Associated Press writer Ken Thomas.


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