Obama Hopes To Capitalize On Media Exposure

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With Election Day fast approaching and early voting underway, Barack Obama's campaign pulled out all of the stops Wednesday. There were big outdoor events in North Carolina and Florida, a 30-minute prime-time infomercial, an appearance on Comedy Central and the first joint campaign rally with Bill Clinton.


Barack Obama's record fundraising means record spending. And if it suddenly seems like he's everywhere, that's no accident. There were big outdoor events in North Carolina and Florida, network news interview, an appearance on "Comedy Central," all yesterday on top of a 30-minute primetime infomercial shown on eight networking cable TV outlets. NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA: Was it possible to avoid Barack Obama yesterday, a day when the campaign clearly had both the intent and the resources to totally saturate the airwaves through both paid TV time and news coverage? It was even more intense if you happen to live in Florida where you could watch Obama and Bill Clinton live from Orlando on the 11 o'clock news.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Orlando, Florida)

Former President BILL CLINTON: I am honored to be here to voice my support for Senator Barack Obama for president.

Senator BARACK OBAMA (Democrat, Illinois; Democratic Presidential Candidate): It is such an honor and a privilege to have joined - be joined here tonight by a great president, a great statesman, a great supporter in our campaign to change America. Bill Clinton, give it up.

GONYEA: Or at the same time, Floridians could click over to "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central.

(Soundbite of TV show "The Daily Show")

Mr. JON STEWART (Host, "The Daily Show"): ...United States senator representing the great state of Illinois. He is also the Democratic nominee for president. Joining us now via satellite from Sunrise, Florida, please welcome back to the program, Senator Barack Obama. Senator, nice to see you.

(Soundbite of crowd ovation)

Senator OBAMA: Hey, Jon.

GONYEA: Three hours earlier, it was Barack Obama the infomercial, an estimated $4 million purchase of 30 minutes on CBS, NBC, FOX, and assorted cable channels.

(Soundbite of Obama infomercial)

Senator OBAMA: With each passing month, our country has faced increasingly difficult times. Everywhere I go, despite the economic crisis and the war and uncertainty about tomorrow, I still see optimism and hope and strength.

GONYEA: The half-hour program offered a big contrast to the gigantic rallies Obama has been holding. It featured a less iconic, more intimate version of the candidate.

(Soundbite of Obama infomercial)

Senator OBAMA: Mark Dowell and his wife Melinda have worked at the local plant for most of their adult lives. Recently the plant cut back Mark's work to every other week. Now they're struggling to make ends meet.

GONYEA: Dowell's was one of four families featured in the program.

(Soundbite of Obama infomercial)

Mr. MARK DOWELL (Ford Employee): It was a lot better time back then. People thought they had security in their jobs.

Senator OBAMA: In July, Melinda was laid off after eight years on the job.

Mr. DOWELL: From the day I was born, I have been tied to Ford. So this is all I know.

GONYEA: The 30 minutes wrapped up by cutting directly to a live in progress rally at a sports arena in Sunrise, Florida.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Sunrise, Florida)

Senator OBAMA: America, the time for change has come. And to all of you and all of those who've joined us from across the country, in six days we can choose an economy that rewards work and creates jobs and fuels prosperity, starting with the middle class.

GONYEA: And all day yesterday, Obama continued what his campaign calls his closing argument for the campaign. This is from Orlando.

(Soundbite of Democratic campaign rally, Orlando, Florida)

Senator OBAMA: Senator McCain still has not been able to tell the American people a single major thing that he'd do differently from George Bush when it comes to the economy. I am not - I'm not exaggerating.

GONYEA: And Obama chided McCain and Sarah Palin.

Senator OBAMA: Lately they've been calling a socialist. They found evidence that when I was in kindergarten I used to share my toys. When I was in fourth grade, I split my peanut butter sandwich and gave it to my friend. They said, look he's a redistributionist.

GONYEA: In the past, this kind of all-day, all-out campaigning would be reserved for the last day before the election. But this year with millions of voters casting ballots early, every day in this final stretch is Election Day. Yesterday was a day unlike any other U.S. presidential candidate has ever staged. It is what Obama's record-setting fundraising has allowed him to do, kick things into a higher gear at this critical time to make sure the enthusiasm he's seen all year translates into actual votes. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Orlando.

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