McCain Recycles 3 A.M. Ad

We  all knew this would happen sooner or later:  John McCain is using Hillary Clinton’s “3 a.m.” spot against Barack Obama.



CLINTON AD: It’s 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?

ANNCR: Uncertainty. Dangerous aggression. Rogue nations. Radicalism.

HILLARY CLINTON: I know Senator McCain has a lifetime of experience that he will bring to the White House. And, Senator Obama has a speech he gave in 2002.

ANNCR: Hillary’s right. John McCain for President.


This is easily McCain’s most effective ad yet.  It has none of the feel of cheapness the the constant invocation of his days in the Hanoi Hilton or his using Joe Biden’s kind words against Biden.  He’s playing his strength against his opponent’s weakness while at the same time exploiting bitterness that Hillary supporters feel over their candidate losing.

Interestingly, the ad is likely to be more effective for McCain than it was for Clinton.  After all, Clinton hardly had any more first-hand experience than Obama.  While McCain hasn’t exactly sat in the Oval Office at 3 a.m. dealing with a crisis, either, he’s unquestionably got more training and experience in military and foreign affairs than his opponent.

Ed Morrissey goes further:

Had Hillary used this strategy from the beginning, she would have won the nomination handily over Obama. Instead, she didn’t start attacking Obama until it was too late. McCain isn’t making that same mistake, and he’s not only using the most effective attack, he’s using its most effective spokesperson.

While Obama’s lack of foreign policy experience is somewhat overstated — most incoming presidents have had precious little of it — undecided voters genuinely worry about Obama’s qualifications in that regard.  This spot does a good job reinforcing those concerns.

Amusingly, Dan Riehl thinks McCain should offer Hillary Clinton the VP spot on his ticket.  I have a high degree of confidence that won’t happen.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, National Security, US Politics, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dantheman says:

    McCain’s folks must really think the Dems had a good night at the convention last night. They are burning possibly their best line of attack on a day when it knows there will be lots more to talk about.

  2. sam says:

    Yeah, that is a good ad. But at his age, 3 A.M. will probably find him in the bathroom, so no wakeup call will be necessary. I still think, though, that it will be the economy that determines the winner. Moreover, I’m not convinced that using Clinton jiu jitsu against Obama is going to do bring disaffected Hillary supporters to McCain.

    BTW, anyone see the McCain ad featuring Wisconsin nurse, and delegate to the Democratic convention, Debra Bartoshevich? She supports McCain she says, because, among other reasons, McCain does not support the over-turning of Roe v. Wade…

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    You think that ad was effective? It reminds me of the promo Bill Murray’s character used to sell the TV version of “A Christmas Carol” in the movie Scrooged. It’s too over the top.

  4. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    Haha yeah, who do you want answering the phone at 3AM? John “Iran-Pakistan border” McCain, or levelheaded Barack Obama? John “We Are All Georgians Today” McCain, or the analytical Barack Obama? These are questions that McCain shouldn’t be planting in the minds of voters.

    On the other side of the aisle, this is why people like me were calling for Hilary’s head: she spent the final futile months of her campaign generating ad copy for McCain’s campaign. Counterproductive.

  5. Brian says:

    John McCain is definitely playing a better game here. But it’s exactly that which pisses me off. Politics is a game. National security isn’t. The consequence of that 3 A.M. call that Clinton and McCain so cleverly position isn’t a f***ing game.

    Someone who’s been in a prison camp and tortured for five years should remember what those consequences could mean. But fat stomachs make us forget.

    I’m a pendulum vote precisely because of antics employed by politician’s in campaigning. I’m tipped to Obama now…until his retort of course swings me the other way.

  6. Michael says:

    Amusingly, Dan Riehl thinks McCain should offer Hillary Clinton the VP spot on his ticket. I have a high degree of confidence that won’t happen.

    What’s important (for Obama) is that disenfranchised Hillary supporters hear lots of people saying that McCain should offer Hillary the VP spot at the same time that McCain is telling them that Hillary deserves a VP spot. That way, when he predictably doesn’t, they’re just as bitter against McCain as they were against Obama the week before, and then their non-Hillary-centric political views will help bring them back into Obama’s camp.

  7. Michelle says:

    The ad is effective to the extent it doesn’t get people thinking too hard about whether they really want a hot-headed war monger, prone to senior moments, making snap decisions at 3 am.

  8. Bandit says:

    the analytical Barack Obama

    That’s a joke right?