From CBS News' Allison O'Keefe:
(Cedar Rapids, Iowa) – Barack Obama is trying to make John McCain's recent TV ad backfire on the Republican.
At a town hall meeting in Iowa today, Obama reiterated his assertion that since Republicans have no new ideas, they continue to make the election about him. "All of those negative ads that he's running won't do a thing to lower your gas prices," Obama told a crowd of about a thousand.
Sen. McCain's new ad "Celeb," which showcases Obama's celebrity status, is getting a lot of attention, especially from Obama himself. "All we have been hearing about is Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. I do have to ask my opponent, is that the best you can come up with? Is that really what this election is about?" The comment received a welcome reception. At one point, when Obama was referring to his opponent, someone in the audience shouted, "Hater!"
When Obama walked onto the stage here in Cedar Rapids, he was greeted with a chorus of "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." Obama will be 47 on Monday. The town hall was geared toward energy policy and Obama used the opportunity to point to the news today that Exxon Mobile's profit this quarter clocked in at a record high. "No U.S. corporation has ever made that much in a quarter. But while big oil is making record profits, you are paying record prices at the pump, and our economy is leaving working people behind," he said.
At the end of his prepared remarks, Obama reminisced about the origins of his campaign. Cedar Rapids, Iowa was the first stop following his announcement that he was running for president. "It was the dead of the winter. The skeptics predicted we wouldn't get very far. The cynics dismissed it as a lot of hype, a lot of celebrity, a little too much hope."