2020年1月28日 星期二

On Politics Media Watch: The Closing Arguments

It’s time for the candidates’ last ads in Iowa — and they can tell us a lot.
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By Nick Corasaniti

Domestic Correspondent, Politics

Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I’m Nick Corasaniti, your host on Tuesdays for our coverage of all things media and messaging.

Pete Buttigieg wants to “turn the page” on the broken politics of Washington. Joe Biden depicts a post-Trump world. Amy Klobuchar pledges to be a president “for you.”

After nearly a year of campaigning in Iowa — and spending a total of more than $60 million in its television advertising markets — the Democratic presidential candidates are now rotating in their last ads before Monday’s caucuses, offering a summation of that journey and a final plea to voters.

These are the “closing argument” ads, to use some political jargon. Though they’re awash in emotional musical scores, slow-motion shots of local landscapes and broad platitudes, they also reveal a lot about what the top-polling campaigns think is their most salient message.

For Mr. Biden, it’s clear: “Vote Biden. Beat Trump.”

Biden campaign

Mr. Biden, who has centered his campaign on the idea that he has the best chance at defeating President Trump, narrates the ad. He urges voters to envision country that would ban assault weapons, expand health care coverage and combat climate change — but only once Mr. Trump was out of office.

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The Buttigieg campaign calls for a “bold vision for the next generation,” painting Washington as “paralyzed by the same old thinking, polarized by the same old fights.”

Buttigieg campaign

Mr. Buttigieg, the youngest candidate in the field at 38, has often pitched his candidacy as a generational movement. And his ad takes aim at some issues that could resonate with millennials, like “corporate greed,” “inaction on climate change” and “endless wars.” But he does not mention Mr. Trump directly.

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Like Mr. Biden, Ms. Klobuchar takes aim at Mr. Trump, drawing a contrast between what she describes as the president’s priorities and her own.

Klobuchar campaign

She opens by saying, directly to the camera, that Mr. Trump makes “everything about him,” with a jab at his golf habit, but Ms. Klobuchar says she “thinks the job is about you.” She chooses to highlight health care and education in the ad, and returns to a central line in her stump speech: that she’ll “restore decency” to the White House.

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Bernie Sanders’s campaign declined to answer requests about its closing argument ad. But it has been airing one that has all the hallmarks: broad appeal, sweeping camera shots and that motivational, emotive musical score.

Sanders campaign

Rather than make any specific policy appeals, Mr. Sanders simply talks about the “fight,” taking a clip from a speech where he asks the people at one of his huge rallies if they’re willing to fight for someone they might not know.

It fits with his campaign’s desire to portray his support as a movement, and the scenes of sizable crowds and the sounds of cheering throngs reinforce that theme.

Elizabeth Warren’s campaign also did not tell us explicitly what its closing argument ad is, or whether it has already aired, but my colleague Astead Herndon notes that Ms. Warren is structuring her final pitch to Iowa voters around a single line: “Women win.”

Warren campaign

An ad released by the Warren campaign more than a week ago followed that theme, portraying Ms. Warren as the candidate Mr. Trump fears the most in the general election. She delivers the forceful closing message herself: “I approve this message because I’m going to beat him.”

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Ad of the week: The negative attacks begin to target Sanders

DMFI PAC

Mr. Sanders’s campaign has always said he was being attacked by the Democratic establishment. But now he is actually the target of a significant negative advertising campaign.

Backed by more than $680,000 from the group Democratic Majority for Israel’s political action arm, a new negative ad will air in Iowa through the caucuses. That’s a significant buy in a state that has not seen Democrats aim a negative attack ad at any Democratic candidate during this cycle.

The message: Featuring six Iowa voters, the ad argues that Mr. Sanders can’t defeat Mr. Trump. The voters cite the senator’s heart attack last year and his “socialist” ideology — he calls himself a democratic socialist — as evidence that he would not match up well against Mr. Trump, particularly in “Michigan, Pennsylvania and Iowa.”

The takeaway: The ad comes amid growing concern among some Democrats that Mr. Sanders could capture the nomination, and that if they don’t mount an effort now, he could be unstoppable after Super Tuesday. But it also opens up a new line of attack against him that doesn’t quite ring true; though the voters in the ad argue that he couldn’t beat Mr. Trump, Mr. Sanders narrowly leads the president in many polls.

Nonetheless, in a race that hasn’t seen a single negative ad on television, it remains to be seen how impactful this one can be.

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