President Obama reacts to a call from a supporter during a campaign rally… (Mike Cardew / Akron Beacon…)
WASHINGTON -- As the race for the White House enters its final phase, President Obama is making an extended appeal to voters' "economic patriotism" in a new two-minute television ad set to debut in swing states.
Speaking directly to the camera, Obama tells voters that he believes the nation is "moving forward again," after reminding them of the dire economic situation he encountered upon taking office.
He acknowledges that there is more to be done, but argues that the path offered by his Republican challenger is not the right one.
"Governor Romney believes that with even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy, and fewer regulations on Wall Street, all of us will prosper. In other words, he'd double down on the same trickle-down policies that led to the crisis in the first place," Obama says, before outlining his own five-step plan for a second term.
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"It’s time for a new economic patriotism, rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong, thriving middle class," he said. "Read my plan. Compare it to Governor Romney's and decide for yourself."
In response, Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Obama four years ago had called it "unpatriotic" to run up debts.
"Yet in the time it takes his latest ad to run, our national debt grows by at least another $5 million," she said.
"President Obama's record is clear: We can’t afford another four years that look like the last four years. Mitt Romney will strengthen the middle class, create 12 million new jobs and deliver what President Obama hasn't -- a real recovery."
The Obama ad has the feel of a closing message, the type that would come in the campaign's closing days. And in a sense, it is. Early voting begins Thursday in Iowa, and in the crucial battleground of Ohio next week.
Polls show Obama taking a more significant lead, both nationally and in swing states, as voters indicate greater confidence in the economy and the course of the nation. Scheduled for next Wednesday is the first nationally televised debate between Obama and Romney, seen by some as a make-or-break moment for the challenger.
The ad is the second two-minute spot of Obama's campaign. It is the length of an entire commercial break on most broadcasts. One earlier in the campaign was decidedly negative, focusing on workers who lost their jobs at companies shuttered by Romney's former venture capital firm, Bain Capital.
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At a point of near-saturation of political advertising in swing-state markets, the tone of the ad -- with the candidate speaking directly to camera -- is an effective way of trying to break through, according to a Democratic strategist not affiliated with the Obama campaign. Romney also has a new ad in which he speaks directly to voters.
Obama in his ad offers his message as one that he'd deliver "if I could sit down with you, in your living room or around the kitchen table."
In 2008, the Obama campaign used an even longer ad -- a 30-minute prime-time broadcast -- to deliver a closing message. A campaign spokesman would not say Wednesday whether the new two-minute ad was a sign of more to come.