PANAMA CITY, Florida (Reuters) - Republican John McCain’s presidential team mocked Democrat Barack Obama on Friday as an overconfident, Messiah-like candidate with a tendency toward exaggeration in a Web ad that closed out a week of attacks.
The ad, e-mailed to supporters, refers to Obama as “The One” and uses rhetoric from some of Obama’s high-flying speeches, making fun of quotes such as, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” and “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
“It shall be known that in 2008, the world shall be blessed,” the announcer intones. “They will call him: The One.”
Even the late actor Charlton Heston makes an appearance as bearded Moses from the epic biblical movie, “The Ten Commandments.” As Moses parts the seas by declaring, “Behold His mighty hand,” the Obama for President seal comes forth.
“Barack Obama may be The One,” the announcer says. “But is he ready to lead?”
The remarkably personal Web ad marked the end of a week in which the McCain campaign stepped up aggressive attacks against the Democrat, who would be America’s first black president if he is elected on November 4.
A television advertisement on Wednesday compared his sudden fame to pop culture celebrities like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.
And when Obama struck back by saying the McCain camp was attacking him because he has a “funny name” and his face is different from the white presidents on U.S. paper currency, McCain accused him of injecting racial politics into the campaign.
SENSE OF HUMOR
McCain, at a news conference, smiled as he talked about the new ad.
“We were having some fun with our supporters,” he said. “We’re going to display a sense of humor in this campaign.”
Asked if the religious imagery was appropriate, he said: “That clip is Charlton Heston. It’s a movie.”
He said he was running a “very respectful campaign.”
“I don’t think our campaign is negative in the slightest,” he said.
The Obama campaign was swift to denounce the new ad.
“It’s downright sad that on a day when we learned that 51,000 Americans lost their jobs, a candidate for the presidency is spending all of his time and the powerful platform he has on these sorts of juvenile antics,” said spokesman Hari Sevugan.
McCain is trying to knock Obama back on his heels and prevent him from taking a runaway lead in opinion polls ahead of the Democratic nominating convention in late August, where Obama would be expected to get a boost.
McCain appeared in Panama City with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, often mentioned as a vice presidential running mate candidate for McCain.
Asked whether Crist was under consideration, McCain said he believed Crist has “earned a place in the Republican Party not just in the state of Florida but nationally.”
But he said he would not talk about the vice presidential process. He is expected to name his choice this month.
Earlier in Orlando, McCain engaged in a spirited debate with participants in the annual conference of the National Urban League, an influential black group, 24 hours before Obama was to appear before them on Saturday.
They gave McCain a cordial welcome, standing politely and applauding as he was introduced. After his remarks, they quizzed the Arizona senator on a range of issues from equal opportunity in the job market for black Americans to prison rape.
One man wanted to know why McCain backed offshore oil drilling if, as some experts say, it would take 10 years to get the oil to gasoline stations.
McCain said he had spoken to oil industry executives and had been told it was possible to use existing facilities to produce gasoline from offshore oil within months.
“So we ought to drill now,” he said.
Additional reporting by John Whitesides, Editing by Eric Walsh
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.