Obama Makes First Midterm Campaign Television Ad

Fans tuning in to watch the New Orleans Saints defeat the Carolina Panthers 16-14 Sunday were encouraged in an ad by President Obama to help root another contender into the end zone – New Orleans Democratic House candidate Cedric Richmond. It’s the first general election television ad the president has recorded on behalf of a candidate.

Speaking directly to voters in the 30-second spot, Obama highlights the candidate’s record in the state legislature and community involvement.

“The city of New Orleans has had its trials, but you’ve also got great champions, fighting to see you through the tough times. Cedric Richmond is one of those champions,” the president says. “New Orleans needs Cedric Richmond in Congress, and so do I.”

According to internal campaign polling, Richmond is leading by 10 points in the race against Republican incumbent Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, who in September told the New Orleans Times Picayune, “I love the president, and I believe he truly likes me.” Last year, Cao was the only House Republican to vote for the administration-backed health care bill.

Richmond’s visual “love” from the president could figure heavily in the 59-percent African American district, which supported Obama by 75 percent in 2008.

Democratic ads this election season have largely shied away from any mention of Obama or health care legislation, with Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias’s use of older video showing the president endorsing him being the most notable exception until now.

But the president’s direct appeal to voters in a largely blue area is in keeping with the White House’s strategy thus far in a midterm season that has left Democrats feeling vulnerable. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in August, “We're not going to go to places where people think it's unhelpful that we go. That would be crazy."

The White House is employing the same strategy in a radio ad released last week for Maryland Gov. O’Malley, an incumbent Democrat running in a blue state where the black vote figures prominently.

“I know this governor has made the tough decisions to put education, safety, and job creation first. So stand with me, Barack Obama, in moving Maryland forward with my friend Martin O’Malley,” the president says in the ad, after warning Marylanders that a vote for Republican challenger and former governor Bob Ehrlich could make the state “slip backwards.”

The president is expected to stump for O’Malley at Bowie State University on Thursday.

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