Worried that anti-Obama TV spots focused on women voters may have an impact in narrowing the so-called gender gap, MSNBC today brought on former Clinton-Gore ad woman Linda Kaplan Thaler of the Kaplan Thaler Group to blast ads by the Romney campaign and Romney-friendly super PACs that feature children and address the explosion in federal debt under President Obama.
Anchor Thomas Roberts did mention Kaplan Thaler's former affiliation with the Clinton-Gore campaign at the open of the interview, but at no point did he ask her about the policy substance of the advertisements' arguments nor did he bring on an opposing point of view about the effectiveness of the ads. Here's the relevant transcript:
THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC Live host: As we look at these ads, certainly, we all perk up when kids when we see kids being featured in political ads, talking about their futures. Are they going to be effective in wooing women to pay attention to what the message is?
LINDA KAPLAN THALER, CEO of Kaplan Thaler Group: You know, it's such an obvious ploy. And I think playing the baby card has been done and done and done. And I think unfortunately in this case, what's happening is that women see through it. You know, in advertising we say "oops, your strategy is showing." And I think to be so blatantly trying to pander with little feet to moms, I think it runs the risk of backfiring. And potentially being, you know, late-night fodder for jokes.
ROBERTS: I just want to show everybody another example, this is an ad from the Romney campaign, take a look.
FEMALE NARRATOR: Dear daughter: Welcome to America. Your share of Obama's debt is over $50,000 and it grows every day. Obama's policies are making it harder on women.
ROBERTS: So,what are the risks that you notice with these types of ads? And to be fair, President Obama's team has done this too with the DNC putting out their this is Julia, campaign, I think it is for health care where they showed a young woman all the way to being elderly and health care through her life, but talking about the life span of people and starting at the age of kids. But what are the risks?
KAPLAN THALER: You know, the risk is that it becomes so smarmy that you just don't even take it seriously. And I think this is what we found in this ad particularly in the execution of this ad. The voiceover didn't even sound real. The scene didn't even feel that real. And so I don't think even when i read through and I saw a lot of blogs of people commenting about the ads, they just didn't feel -- you know, you know, it didn't ring true to them. They felt that they were being sold something. And I think you run a big risk when you do that.
ROBERTS: Linda Kaplan Thaler. Linda, great to have you on this morning. Thanks for your time.
It's likely Roberts and/or his producers were clued into bringing Kaplan Thaler on given the prominence that the liberal New York Times gave her in a September 30 article headlined "The New Stars in Republican Commercials Attacking Obama: Babies":
“Scare tactics are nothing new, but with babies? This goes to new extremes,” said Linda Kaplan Thaler, a longtime advertising executive who has worked on the presidential campaigns for both Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton and now runs the Madison Avenue firm Publicis Kaplan Thaler.
Ms. Kaplan Thaler said these ads could backfire, especially if women see them as being too preachy. “It’s all about having a dialogue,” she said. “And when you are in a situation where you are telling voters something and not inviting a real conversation, you run the risk of voters having their own conversation.” And these days that conversation often takes place on late-night comedy shows, where, Ms. Kaplan Thaler said, these ads could ultimately end up, as political punch lines.
Not only did Kaplan Thaler do ad work for the Clinton/Gore campaign, a search of FEC databases shows Kaplan Thaler has given exclusively to liberal Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).