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Obama’s Creative Clippings Part Deux

The ad may be new, but we've seen this tactic, from this candidate, before.


The Obama campaign’s new ad uses an old trick and takes quotes from newspapers out of context.

  • Once again, the campaign uses a quote from a news story to say Obama’s health plan would offer universal coverage. But the full article points out that his plan "does not guarantee" full coverage.
  • The ad also shows a clip saying that Obama has been against the war in Iraq since the beginning. True enough, but the story also chastises him for making too much of the boldness of his early stance.


This is the second time in as many weeks that we’ve written about Democratic candidate Barack Obama’s misleading use of quotes pulled from newspapers. This ad is running in Nevada in advance of Saturday’s caucus.

[TET ]

Obama for America Ad: "President"

Obama: I’m Barack Obama and I approve this message.

Obama: I’ll be a president who finally makes health care affordable to every single American by bringing Democrats and Republicans together. I’ll be a president who ends the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle class tax cut into the pockets of working Americans. And I’ll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home. We are one nation and our time for change has come.[/TET]

Universally Wrong About Health Care Plan

The ad flashes the quote "Obama offers universal health care plan." That was a headline on a May 29, 2007, Associated Press story.

Correction, Jan. 17: We originally reported that the AP story didn’t include the quote used in the ad. We were looking at the final version sent on the AP wire that day. But the Obama campaign contacted us to point out, correctly, that an earlier version of that story included those words as a headline.

However, the story merely reported that Obama said he would sign a universal health care plan. The article goes on to cast doubt on the universality of his own plan:

AP: Obama’s first promise as a presidential candidate was that he would sign a universal health care plan into law by the end of his first term in the White House. But there is some dispute over whether his plan would provide universal care. It’s aimed at lowering costs so all Americans can afford insurance, but does not guarantee everyone would buy it.

It’s an important distinction we’ve raised a few times. Obama’s plan wouldn’t guarantee that every individual had health insurance, just that everyone would have the opportunity to obtain it. The AP story also includes a quote from a representative of Families USA, a liberal group that pushes for expanded government health coverage, who says, "It’s not totally clear that it would result in universal coverage." The ad even shows video of Obama using more accurate language when he says he wants to make "health care affordable."

Cutting Out the Critique

The ad also shows a quote that says "Obama opposed Iraq war from the start." The AP analysis from Oct. 2, 2007, certainly did say that, but it also included some less-than-flattering words about Obama’s stance on Iraq.

AP: Nobody can dispute that Barack Obama opposed the Iraq war from the start and, with striking prescience, predicted U.S. troops would be mired in a costly conflict that fanned "the flames of the Middle East." But nobody should accept at face value the Illinois senator’s claim that he was a "courageous leader" who opposed the war at a great political risk. … And once elected to the U.S. Senate two years later, Obama waited months to show national leadership on Iraq.

The article goes on to point out that Obama had been quite politically careful about how he approached the war.

We’re used to seeing ads for movies that artfully clip fragments of reviews that may, in fact, pan the film in question. Candidates should know better. This might be a good time to remember an admonition we heard a few times when we were children: No running with scissors.

– by Justin Bank


Fournier, Ron. "Analysis: Obama prescient on Iraq, but ‘courageous leader’ tag may be a stretch." Associated Press, 2 Oct. 2007.

Glover, Mike. "Taxes on wealthy would rise to pay for health care under Obama plan." Associated Press, 29 May 2007.

Whitesides, John. "Obama calls for middle-class tax relief." Reuters, 19 Sept. 2007.