New Rove ad: "He promised change, but things changed for the worse"

Karl Rove’s super-PAC Crossroads GPS launched another television commercial slamming President Barack Obama yesterday, less than a week after its last ad hit tv screens in Iowa and nine other swing states. “Basketball” targets women who initially supported Obama for president but are discouraged about the economy. The video and transcript are after the jump.

Crossroads GPS is running both “Promise” and “Basketball” in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Obama carried all of those states in 2008 and needs to win more than half of them in order to be re-elected.

Annotated transcript:

Female voice-over: I always loved watching the kids play basketball. [Footage of a boy and girl playing basketball in the driveway, as smiling mom looks on from the kitchen window.]

I still do, even though things have changed. [Young mother’s face morphs into older woman’s face, with gray hair. Background music sounds downbeat.]

It’s funny, they can’t find jobs to get their careers started, [Gray-haired woman turns away from the same kitchen window, with sad look on her face.]

and I can’t afford to retire. And now, we’re all living together again. [Footage of young girl and boy coming back into the kitchen from outside, morphs into 20-something sister and brother walking into the kitchen as mother prepares to set down plates of food for them.]

I supported President Obama because he spoke so beautifully. [Footage of Obama speaking at unidentified event]

He promised change, but things changed for the worse. [Footage of Obama speaking, perhaps at his first State of the Union, words on screen “Americans’ doubts grow over stimulus bill,” Reuters 2/5/09]

Obama started spending like our credit cards have no limit. [graph labeled DEBT UNDER OBAMA shows dots and line moving upward to $15 trillion in 2012]

His health care law made health insurance even more expensive. [Footage of hospital worker pushing patient in wheelchair, words on screen “Survey: Health insurance costs surge in 2011” USA Today, 9/28/11]

We’ve had stimulus and bailouts. [View shifts to a framed photograph of the mother smiling next to her son, who’s wearing a graduation cap and gown.]

Obama added almost 16 thousand dollars in debt for every American. [Another framed photo of woman standing in between her daughter and son, everyone smiling. Words on screen “CBO chief says debt ‘unsustainable’” Politico, 4/8/10]

How will my kids pay that off when they can’t even find jobs? [The adult son and daughter are looking at job listings on a laptop computer.]

Now, Obama wants more spending and taxes. [Footage of Obama at public event, with Vice President Joe Biden standing behind him, smiling and applauding. Words on screen “Stimulus program fraught with waste, report says” Los Angeles Times, 6/16/09]

That won’t fix things. [Camera pans over a newspaper front page with headlines UNEMPLOYMENT RATE STAYS HIGH, GAS PRICES CONTINUE TO RISE]

I had so many hopes. Cutting taxes and debt, and creating jobs. [Camera moves past newspaper to a student loan form lying on the desk.]

That’s the change we need. [Close-up of mother’s face, looking somber.]

Tell President Obama to cut the job-killing debt and support the New Majority Agenda, at [Mother sits at kitchen table, talking with adult daughter and son; newspaper and student loan forms are visible. Words on screen: TELL PRESIDENT OBAMA: Cut the Job-Killing Debt Support the New Majority Agenda PAID FOR BY CROSSROADS GRASSROOTS POLICY STRATEGIES

The look and feel of “Basketball” could hardly be more different from last week’s Crossroads ad, which featured an angry male voice-over, harsh visuals and the sounds of breaking glass. The female voice narrating the new ad sounds sad and disappointed rather than angry. Joshua Miller noted at Roll Call that “Basketball” is similar to a commercial Crossroads ran in July 2011, called “Wake Up” (click through to watch that clip).

The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters provided the backstory on how consultant Larry McCarthy developed the latest commercial.

The concept for the newest advertisement and even some of the lines in the script were culled directly from focus groups of undecided and sometimes torn voters that were held over nearly a year. As Crossroads strategists would learn after 18 different focus groups and field tests, from Missouri to Colorado to Ohio to Florida, the harshest anti-Obama jabs backfire with many Americans.

Middle-of-the-road voters who said they thought the country was on the wrong track were unmoved when they heard arguments that the president lacks integrity. And they did not buy assertions that he is a rabid partisan with a radical liberal agenda that is wrecking America.

“They are not interested in being told they made a horrible mistake,” said Steven J. Law, president of Crossroads GPS and the affiliated “super PAC,” American Crossroads. “The disappointment they’re now experiencing has to be handled carefully.” […]

Republicans acknowledge that they have always faced a more complicated target in Mr. Obama, whose candidacy four years ago struck a deep emotional chord with many Americans.

That is why the Crossroads ad features a heavy repetition of the word “change.” Many participants in the focus groups cited the Obama mantra of hope and change as a reason they supported him in 2008, but they said they now felt let down.

“Criticizing President Obama is a challenging proposition in terms of ads because a lot of your swing voters this year voted for him in 2008,” Mr. McCarthy said. “They genuinely liked him, they thought he had the right message, they thought he was different.”

Because this commercial centers on the personal story of a fictional character, it’s not as error-laden as last week’s offering from the Rove super-PAC. called tax hike claims in the “Promise” ad “almost entirely false” and highlighted many other deceptive statements.

“Basketball” is misleading in more subtle ways. That Los Angeles Times “report” on wasteful stimulus spending was a news story about Republican Senator Tom Coburn’s report denouncing the stimulus.

Also, the new ad’s script wrongly implies that federal debt “kills” jobs. In reality, many forms of government spending create jobs. Republicans acknowledge that fact in other contexts, which is why last week the U.S. House approved a defense authorization bill that funds weapons systems the military doesn’t need and prevents any military base closures from being considered in 2013.

Any comments about the presidential election are welcome in this thread.

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