Democrat Barack Obama brought the 2008 presidential campaign to the state’s airwaves during the weekend with a 30-second television commercial titled “Mother.”
Obama was the first candidate — Democratic or Republican — to broadcast a TV spot in Arizona.
The ad features the U.S. senator from Illinois discussing his mother’s death from cancer at age 53. In the commercial, Obama says his mother was more worried about paying her medical bills than getting well during the final months before she died. Then he segues into a brief discussion about reforming health care.
The commercial currently is being broadcast on several over-the-air networks and will be expanded to cable networks in coming days or weeks, said Obama’s state campaign director Raul Alvillar.
The TV buy augments the campaign’s ground game, which includes a get-out-the-vote program, door-to-door campaigning and phone banking, he said.
“We felt that we have a lot of folks that are out there supporting us and we thought that this might be something that might be helpful to folks out there to spread the message of the senator,” Alvillar said.
The ad began its run Saturday, two days after Arizona elections officials mailed hundreds of thousands of early ballots to voters for the state’s presidential preference election on Feb. 5, but those who receive early ballots can vote right away.
The Obama campaign probably will buy air time continuously through Feb. 5, and probably will rotate different ads before the vote, Alvillar said, though final decisions on those details have yet to be made.
Political analyst Bruce Merrill said the campaign’s strategy to get an early start in Arizona makes sense, particularly because Obama was way behind Hillary Clinton in the most recent poll among Democrats.
“Probably the biggest thing that he’s got going for him is that he’s kind of out there alone. He doesn’t have a lot of noise from other candidates,” Merrill said.
Merrill, a journalism professor at Arizona State University, said ASU and KAET-TV (Channel 8) will conduct a new poll in coming days.
Obama’s TV spots are likely to influence the survey’s and the state election’s results, Merrill said.
“People are only seeing his ads, and they’re not seeing anyone else’s ads, so that may give him a little bit of an advantage. Since Clinton has so much darn money, it will be interesting to see what she’s going to do,” he said.
Calls seeking comment from Clinton’s Arizona campaign officials were referred to national campaign officials, who did not immediately respond.
The theme of the Obama’s opening TV commercial in Arizona is curious, Merrill said.
“Health care is important, but it’s not high on the list of Arizonans right now. The economy, immigration and education obviously are big right now, really much bigger than that,” he said.
Alvillar said he is hopeful Obama will appear in Arizona before Feb. 5. Obama appeared at a rally at ASU in Tempe in October.