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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Obama ad, which is 30 seconds long and features a conventional mix of pictures of the president interspersed with video of wind turbines, is running in Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The narrator casts doubt on claims about the White House’s involvement with the now-bankrupt green energy company Solyndra, warns of “secretive billionaires attacking President Obama,” touts new ethics reforms, and points out, “For the first time in 13 years, our dependence on foreign oil is below 50 percent.” (Watch the ad below).

The attack on the president that elicited so fierce a response was actually just the latest in a TV campaign begun in November by Americans for Prosperity to keep the Solyndra issue in the news. A senior Obama campaign official told The National Memo that not every Super PAC ad will warrant a response, but third-party attacks fueled by oil money are rather low-hanging fruit. In 2008, Obama consistently went after Republican nominee John McCain for proposing “$4 billion in tax breaks to oil companies” — and the oil emphasis here suggests the campaign thinks it can revive a tactic that worked for them in the past, tarring attacks on the president as corrupted by oil money.

The TV campaign also coincides with widespread efforts by the Obama team to shore up the president’s political standing, which despite the Republican primary circus, still compares unfavorably with the last two presidents who won re-election. A Pew poll released Thursday afternoon puts the president’s job approval rating at 44 percent; George W. Bush began 2004 with 56 percent approval and Bill Clinton entered his re-election year with exactly 50 percent of the public approving of his performance.

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