July 26, 2016
Amidst news reports that Michelle Obama gave one of the best received speeches at the Democratic National Convention last night, here’s another observation: she was also absolutely, utterly, masterfully on message.
Obama’s speech echoed themes in a 30-second political ad released in mid-July by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, titled “Role Models.” In the ad, scenes of children seriously and quietly watching Donald Trump’s image on a TV screen show. Meanwhile, there is audio of some of Trump’s more controversial quotes, such as “and you can tell them to go f**k themselves,” and “She had blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her where ever.” Then the words, “Our children are watching. What example will we set for them?” appear on the screen, followed by footage of Clinton talking about the example we set for our children and grandchildren.
Now listen to this segment from Michelle Obama’s speech from the first night of the convention, as captured by the TV News Archive. The First Lady says:
“We as parents are their most important role models. And let me tell you Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as president and First Lady because we know that our words and actions matter, not just to our girls, but to children across this country.”
This general mode of attack against Donald Trump — using his own words against him, filtering them through the lense of how people react to them — is also being used in another series of 15-second ads sponsored by Woman Vote!, a super PAC supporting Clinton’s campaign. This series, however, focuses on adults, not kids. People are shown a sign with Trump quote on it and asked to say it on camera. In this example, an African American woman says, “I don’t feel comfortable saying this.” She’s asked to show the card to the camera, and the words read: “Laziness is a trait in blacks.”
Video of Donald Trump was also featured to introduce speakers on the first evening of the Democratic National Convention. Will this theme continue throughout the week? We’ll be watching.
Note: The Political TV Ad Archive is now tracking political ad airings in limited markets: Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The project will begin tracking airings of ads in battleground states in August.