- The Washington Times - Monday, August 11, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama is hitting back at Sen. John McCain, battling charges he is a “celebrity” with a new negative TV ad that paints his Republican rival as a star too cozy with Washington lobbyists and an unpopular president.

The Obama ad, called “Embrace,” shows Mr. McCain hugging President Bush and walking down the street with what the narrator labels “the lobbyists running his low road campaign.”

“For decades, he’s been Washington’s biggest celebrity,” the narrator says as the screen flashes shots of Mr. McCain getting a rousing welcome while appearing on popular TV shows like “Late Night with David Letterman” and “The View.” Mr. Obama has been on both shows.

With the shot of Mr. Bush kissing Mr. McCain on the head, the narrator says, “And as Washington embraced him, John McCain hugged right back.”

The ad accuses the Republican of wanted to give “billions in tax breaks” for oil and drug companies, while flashing the words “Nothing for you” on the screen.

It concludes with footage of Mr. McCain on “Saturday Night Live,” a show where Mr. Obama also has appeared, “A Washington celebrity playing the same old Washington games.”

The Obama campaign said the 30-second spot will start running on national cable Tuesday while the Illinois senator is on vacation in Hawaii.

It follows several attempts by Team McCain to portray Mr. Obama as a vapid megastar unqualified to lead the nation. One ad, showing the Democrat along with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, became a YouTube sensation and prompted Miss Hilton to hit back with her own tongue-in-cheek response.

McCain advisers dismissed the ad as they released a new Web ad that portrayed Mr. Obama as someone with a rock star presence that “hot chicks dig.”

“John McCain is well-known for a lifetime of service to America and his record of fighting to reform Washington, while Barack Obama is simply a worldwide celebrity,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.

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