- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sen. John McCain’s campaign Friday accused his Democratic rival of having a Messiah complex in a Web video meant to solicit donations, continuing a weeklong drive to define Sen. Barack Obama as an empty pop-culture creation.

Mr. McCain told reporters his team is “having some fun with supporters” and insisted he’s running a “respectful” campaign.

But Mr. Obama in his own fundraising pitch said such mockery from the Republican attempts to invalidate “the desire of millions of Americans.”

“It’s downright sad that on a day when we learned that 51,000 Americans lost their jobs, a candidate for the presidency is spending all of his time and the powerful platform he has on these sorts of juvenile antics,” Obama spokesman Hari Sevugan said.

The McCain video weaves together quotes from Mr. Obama describing the importance of his candidacy and uses footage of Charlton Heston as Moses, parting the Red Sea in “The Ten Commandments.”

“It should be known that in 2008 the world will be blessed. They will call him the One,” a narrator says in the ad that was not set to air on any television stations. “He has anointed himself ready to carry the burden of the One.”

The ad closes with, “Barack Obama may be the One, but is he ready to lead?”

The new spot follows a national television ad that juxtaposed Mr. Obama with lightweight celebrities Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, and a day after the McCain camp accused Mr. Obama of playing the race card when saying his opponent is trying to scare voters because he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the those dollar bills.”

The Illinois Democrat denied Friday that his saying that he doesn’t look like the figures on U.S. currency - all dead white men - was a reference to race.

Mr. Obama himself all week denounced Mr. McCain for offering the “same old politics” and ridiculed his rival a pushing trivial ads to distract from offering solutions to the nation’s problems. He highlighted that theme in a Thursday night fundraising e-mail to supporters.

In his note, Mr. Obama said the Arizona senator has backtracked from his promise to run a “respectful campaign,” and denounced his rival for saying he is “proud” of his Paris Hilton-Britney Spears ad that’s “attacking your enthusiasm.”

“Now, we’re facing some serious challenges in this country - our economy is struggling, energy costs are skyrocketing, and families don’t have health care. Given the seriousness of these issues, you’d think we’d be having a serious debate,” Mr. Obama said. “But instead, John McCain is running an expensive, negative campaign against us. Each day brings a desperate new set of attacks.

“They believe that in this election the same old smears and negative attacks will prevail again.”

He concludes with “They’re wrong,” and says if people donate $5 or more, his campaign can “prove them wrong in a very concrete way.”

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe told supporters in his own Web video that more than 100,000 donations flooded the campaign site in one day after the celebrity ad. He said more than one-third were giving money for the first time.

But the McCain camp highlighted its candidate’s movement in the polls this week in a fundraising letter of their own.

“As the biggest celebrity in the world, Barack Obama began the week with a nine-point lead in the Gallup Tracking poll,” read the note. “We made up ground and ended the week even - tied in the Gallup Tracking poll.”

The Gallup Poll released Friday, which includes surveys taken from Tuesday to Thursday, has the two men tied at 44 percent.

The McCain Web ad attached to the fundraising note is riddled with partial Obama quotes. In one, Mr. Obama is shown speaking to an adoring crowd the night he clinched the delegates needed for the nomination, saying: “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal.” The footage of Mr. Heston in his iconic 1956 role as Moses follows.

The full remarks that evening in St. Paul, Minn., make clear the Democrat was not saying he personally would be able to “heal” the planet, saying instead that the campaign trail has vindicated his faith in the “capacity” of Americans and the “movement” that was backing him to accomplish that task.

“If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick, and good jobs for the jobless,” he said.

“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal. This was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation, and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment, this was the time when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves,” he said.

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