GOP Aims To Turn an Obama Positive Into a Negative

From CBS News National Correspondent Dean Reynolds:

Campaigning in Missouri today, Barack Obama tore into the Republicans for launching a bid "to make you scared of me."

"You know, 'He's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all the other presidents on the dollar bills."

Indeed, painting Obama as vaguely foreign and out of the mainstream was a feature of Hillary Clinton's campaign and now, listening to John McCain wonder whether Obama would rather lose a war than a campaign, it appears the Arizona senator has adopted the same tactic.

Okay. Obama has an uncommon name. He's the product of a racially mixed marriage and lived abroad for a time. Foreign? Strange?

The Republican echo chamber has been openly questioning his patriotism, especially after 200,000 Germans were observed cheering him.

But the McCain folks are trying something a little bit different this week. The campaign is going after Obama's rock star image, trying to turn a positive into a negative.

McCain is running a commercial now mocking Obama's celebrity status, and it employs images of Obama with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton to suggest what a dizzy dilletante he must be.

Two women.

Add that point to this statement from McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, who was reacting to Obama's complaint about GOP scare tactics:

"This is a typically superfluous response from Barack Obama," said Bounds.

"Like most celebrities, he reacts to fair criticism with a mix of fussiness and hysteria," he added.

"Fussiness and hysteria?"

Two words not associated with strong leaders.
It reminded those of us in the political press corps of the "Breck Girl" tag the Republicans stuck on John Edwards, or their slam against John Kerry: "He looks French."

Republican campaigns frequently take this "wimp factor" tack -- even against fellow Republicans. Remember Alexander Haig's critical riposte to then Vice President George H.W. Bush during a debate in 1988. "George," said Haig, "we didn't hear a wimp out of you."

It appears that in the latest rip on Obama's "fussiness and hysteria," the party of Larry Craig and Mark Foley seems to be trying to woo not only the male vote, but the "manly men" substrata therein.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.