This is what I call thinking big:
Barack Obama has purchased a half-hour of primetime television on CBS and NBC, sources confirm.
The Obama campaign is producing a nationwide pitch to voters that will air on at least two broadcast networks. The ad will run Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. -- less than a week before the general election.
The direct purchase of such a large block of national airtime right before an election used to be more commonplace before campaigns began to focus their endgame strategies exclusively on battleground states. Such a move is not without precedent in modern presidential politics, however -- Ross Perot did a similar purchase in 1992.
The special is a smart move for the Obama campaign, said Larry Sabato, a political analyst and director of the Center of Politics at the University of Virginia.
"Obama's theme is not just change but unity, so he's appealing to the whole nation rather than a handful of tossup states," Sabato said. "He wants to win the popular vote by a good margin, which will enable him to govern."
And he's got the cash for it.
"This is another indication, if there needs to be any more, that Barack Obama's got more money than [available] television time to buy," said Evan Tracey, COO of the Campaign Media Analysis Group in Arlington, Va.
Whether John McCain's campaign will do the same remains to be seen, though there's one big thing moving against it: money. Unlike Obama, who rejected public financing of the presidential campaign, McCain is accepting it. That means the McCain camp is limited in the amount of money that it can spend and raise, and in its TV buying has been limited mostly to ads in battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Florida.
"There will be no second-guessing the Obama campaign on decisions involving resources," Tracey said. "He's not doing this and pulling down [ad] buys in Florida. This is not an either/or decision. They've got 25 days and unlimited amounts of money."
Neither Sabato nor Tracey could say whether the McCain campaign could buy its own time on the networks, even if it wanted to, because of the cost involved. The networks are obligated to offer the similar time and the same price to McCain.