Obama questions new Clinton TV ad

February 29, 2008 7:24:03 PM PST
ABC7 has the last minute maneuvers before next week's big primaries.

If you're old enough to remember Goldwater vs. Johnson, you'll remember the most famous campaign ad in history. The ad starts with a little girl picking daisy pedals and ends with a countdown to a nuclear blast. As the mushroom cloud rises, the stated message is, vote for Lyndon Johnson, the stakes are too high. The implication? Barry Goldwater might lead the country to Armageddon.

The latest Clinton ad playing now in Lyndon Johnson's home state of Texas states:

"It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep, but there's a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world. Who do you want answering the phone?"

It's not a countdown to a nuclear bomb, but it's playing on the same emotion, says former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta.

My concern is that if there's any lesson we've learned during this campaign it's that hope gets you a lot more votes than fear," says Panetta.

On Friday, Obama's campaign released its own ad, very much like the Clinton piece. The ad states:

"It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep, but there's a phone ringing in the White House. Something's happening in the world. When that call gets answered shouldn't the president be the one, the only one, to have judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start."

Beside the ad wars, there is another story playing out between the two campaigns, in the flap over who said what about the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"I have been a critic of NAFTA from the very beginning," says Senator Clinton.

Panetta says in spite of Clinton's protests now, in 1994 when Panetta was President Clinton's chief of staff, the first lady supported NAFTA.

"In the meetings we had on NAFTA she was supporting the effort to try to get NAFTA put in place," says Panetta.

Barack Obama's campaign appears to be struggling to explain his position on the trade agreement.

On Thursday, reporters asked the Illinois senator about reports that one of his economic advisors told a Canadian government official: don't worry about the Senator's harsh words on NAFTA. That's just campaign rhetoric.

"The Canadian government put out a statement indicating this was just not true so I don't know who the sources are. It wasn't true," says Senator Obama.

Barack Obama is saying it's not true, but the Canadian reporters who broke the story are now naming names and Obama's campaign has refused to confirm or deny. Clinton's campaign is trying to make the most of it. This issue is huge in Ohio -- a state that's lost jobs -- and where voters could decide whether Hillary Clinton's campaign will live or die next Tuesday.