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Who Does the Britney/Paris Ad Really Hurt?

From CBS News' Michelle Levi:

(ORLANDO, FLA.)- "Imagine at a time when we face more challenges than any time in our lives these guys are rubbing hands with Paris and Britney. That's frivilous. It's desperate. It's a sign that they don't have anything to offer to the American people so they are just going to try to call folks names like you did in 5th grade," Obama told a crowd of supporters here tonight. He is, of course, referring to a McCain attack ad released Wednesday which likens Obama to the young pop stars Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

The ad's underlying comparison between a presidential candidate and two controversial celebrities made headlines. Yet, it seems the Illinois senator has managed to use the ad to turn the criticism on McCain.

"You remember that from 5th grade... calling each other names, getting into these petty fights. We don't have time for that. That doesn't help lower gas prices that doesn't help people pay the bills. That doesn't secure people's jobs. That doesn't help people with their retirement. This is a big moment and it calls for big ideas and it calls for a big politics and a big spirit," Obama added.

All day, he has snuck the Britney/Paris comparison into his campaign dialogue. This morning in St. Petersburg, Obama said, "We can have a serious debate about the issues. But we shouldn't be spending time talking about Britney. We shouldn't be spending time talking about Paris. The American people deserve better. They want a serious conversation about the challenges we face here in America."

Later this afternoon, he told NPR: "I mean, if you look at the campaign that John McCain's run over the last month, it's been Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, this latest episode, just recently, the false accusation that I refused to visit troops because the cameras weren't with me, suggesting that I would rather lose a war so I could win a political campaign. You know, there have been a – just a sustained caricature of me and character attacks against me."

All of this raises the question: Could the seemingly detrimental anti-Obama ad eventually backfire on McCain and help Obama's argument for "big politics"?

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