The Washington Times - August 4, 2008, 07:53PM

The first thing I noticed about Sen. John McCain’s web video mocking Sen. Barack Obama as “The One” was the choice of crowds used to portray Obama fans as adoring. The images are faint, shrouded in heavenly clouds, but it looks like the admakers chose black crowds.



It’s noteworthy, capping a week tinged with racial overtones.


Anyone who has ever traveled with Obama knows that he gets a more raucous reaction when he’s speaking to predominantly black audiences, but the jumping up and down, crying and ear-splitting cheers are not limited in any way to one demographic.


After more than a year of covering Obama rallies, I’ve seen screaming (white) Obama fans in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Minnesota, and so on. Even in Berlin, the crowd chanting his name could have been transplanted from any rally back home.


He gets almost identical reactions upon introduction no matter where he is, and that’s why I’ve started filming the crowd as he takes the stage.


The best example of the crowd reaction from my many days on the trail is Geneva Clark. Readers may remember I posted video I took of her in Cincinnati back in February. And I pulled it up on my YouTube page Friday to prove my point to a co-worker who questioned my theory about the crowds.


Here’s the video - that’s Clark in the blue shirt and black sweater. She’s a volunteer for the campaign and spent most of the rally that day on her feet, jumping up and down and screaming. It’s one of my favorite videos because it captures what so many scenes from the campaign trail are like. I even showed it to Obama later that day on his campaign plane, prompting him to joke, “it’s a cult.”





Watching the YouTube clip of Clark again on Friday, I realized why I’d noticed the quick few seconds of crowds in the McCain ad - one of the shots is from my video.


What’s more, the heavenly seeming light shining down on the black man with Clark serves as a spotlight, while the many, equally excited white voters in the frame are impossible to see.


Here’s a screen shot from my video:



And here’s one from the McCain ad.



You can see the two crowds of mostly black voters at about 0:16.





I asked Clark to ask her thoughts on the video, and to see if she could put me in touch with her friend who is more prominently featured in the McCain ad. She said she was “offended” by it in part because “I feel that McCain is making fun of my Christian beliefs as well as my spiritual principals of love, dreams, and most of all Hope.”


She wrote:

“Sen. McCain acts like Sen. Obama can not be charismatic and intelligent at the same time. I wonder why people are not in an uproar about this type of negative campaigns, I believe that these types of ads only make fun of Spiritual and/or religious people.

I also saw myself in that video, if you look closer, I am holding the hand of the person you refer to as my friend. I don’t even know him, I never saw that guy before, we were just enjoying the moment of not only the possibility for making history, but for the first time since I have been engaged in the voting process, I have never been and felt this excited about any other candidate, black or white.”


She said viewed the ad as desperate, and said McCain is “using the race card” along with “making fun of the American people who feel right now that all we have left is HOPE, because Faith is the substance of things to Hope for and the evidence of things not seen.”


Maybe I’m too cynical, but my understanding of the way politics works is that no image is chosen by accident. Maybe some aren’t researched in great detail (like Hillary Clinton’s stock footage of a child who turned out to be an Obama supporter years later) but someone puts in the time to consider the best use of each individual shot.


I’d love to know why the McCain campaign quoted from Obama’s speech in St. Paul, Minnesota the night he clinched the nomination but didn’t choose this predominantly white crowd to depict the senator’s adoring fans:





I had a story in Saturday’s paper about the McCain ad. Read it here.



Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times


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