From NBC/NJ's Adam Aigner-Treworgy, NBC's Alex Wall and Domenico Montanaro
DENVER, Colo. -- Repeatedly calling Obama an "international celebrity," McCain campaign manager Rick Davis held a conference call this morning to address the content of their latest TV ad entitled "Celeb." The ad begins with pictures of Britney Spears and Parish Hilton before showing clips of Obama speaking to a massive crowd in Berlin, and then calls him the "the biggest celebrity in the world."
Davis also defended the ad, claiming that it accurately portrays the way the Obama campaign "has conducted his campaign" and "the events he has held." He argued the Obama campaign's strategy was to "build a fan base around the world" rather than address the issues, and called the Illinois senator "presumptuous" and "not ready to lead."
"The difference between John McCain and Barack Obama is that [our campaign] has the expectation that the American people will decide who the next president is going to be," Davis said. "My view is that there is a distinct difference in how John McCain conducted himself in the various world capitals compared to the 'Obama world tour.'"
McCain adviser Steve Schmidt said, "It's beyond dispute that he has become the biggest celebrity in the world. It's a statement of fact. It's backed up by the reality of his tour around the world. He has many fans. The question that we are posing to the America people is this, 'Is he ready to lead yet?'"
Obviously the McCain campaign's answer to that question is no, as Schmidt then went on to detail how Obama has failed to lead on the biggest issue in this election -- the economy -- calling his opposition to offshore drilling "economic crackery."
When asked what makes Obama a celebrity and not McCain, Davis said that he'd "love to think that John McCain was a big international celebrity, but he's not."
"One of the points that should be clear here today is that the Obama campaign does a wonderful job of presenting their candidate in the most popular light that they can get, and I think they do a very good job at it," Davis said. "They have more fans around the world than Britney Spears does. I make that bold, blatant statement."
McCain is more of a "global leader than a global celebrity," Davis added, saying that when other nations want to speak about the issues they turn to McCain.
Why compare Obama with Spears and Hilton?
"What we decided to do is find the top three international celebrities in the world, and I would say from our estimations Britney and Paris came in second and third," Davis said. "So from our perspective we have in this ad the three biggest celebrities in the world.
But the McCain campaign didn't say where they got their celebrity rankings, and according to CelebrityPopularity.com, Obama is unranked. For the record, Britney Spears is No. 5 on the CelebrityPopularity list, Paris Hilton is No. 10 and apparently No. 1 is Eminem, followed by Mariah Carey and 50 Cent. (Another list found Obama No. 81. Miley Cyrus and Angelina Jolie were 1 and 2 in that one.)
When asked if Obama was "frivolous" and "irresponsible," as is the perception with Spears and Hilton, Davis said, "Yeah" and "I think that's what we've been saying all along.... Apples to apples."
Davis later added, "Will people think of this as negative advertising? It's the most entertaining thing I've seen on TV in a while. I mean I don't -- I wouldn't anticipate anything about this being negative. I mean the point is this is the event he put on."