The Most Important Presidential Campaign Spot You Will Never See

Video: Mitt Romney onstage, Tampa Convention Center, Aug. 20, 2012.

Audio: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans. (Laughter) And to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family.” (Applause)

Video:  Montage of Statue of Liberty standing in water, a submerged Lower Manhattan, devastated New Jersey Coastline.

Audio: (V.O.) “Mitt Romney thinks climate change is a joke, and rising oceans are something to laugh at. Vote Obama…”

Video: Fade to black.

Audio:  “… or learn to swim.” Sound of hurricane-force winds.

Knowing full well that this intro will invoke the wrath of Romney supporters, let me say now that Red, White & Blog would like to offer equal time to anyone who would like to imagine correspondingly fictional versions of Romney/Ryan spots, and we promise to publish them here (or just add them to the comments field at the bottom of this post).



I’ve tried -- I mean, really tried -- to remain neutral, non-partisan and avoid editorializing in the weeks since we revived this political media blog, but the events of this week have hit home in the most literal meanings of that phrase. I’m not going to turn this column into a debate over climate change per se, but of the incredible, indelible timing of Hurricane Sandy, and the effect it will have on the political media discourse.

Hey, don’t ask me. Listen to what New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said when, after remaining sidelined on the presidential race, he suddenly threw his endorsement to Obama -- largely on the basis of which candidate is more capable of dealing with the consequences of climate change.

“Our climate is changing,” Bloomberg asserts in an editorial published by Bloomberg News, which goes on to endorse Obama largely because of his and Romney’s positions on climate change: “One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.”

I  have no idea how many American voters will agree with Bloomberg -- or me -- that climate change is one of the biggest issues at stake in the presidential race, and that it’s not one to be made light of, not taken seriously, or put on the back burner until the day after tomorrow. But I do know that it is one of the most emotionally vexing of all the issues, although it has barely been referenced in the campaign to date, except for throwaway lines, and now Bloomberg’s endorsement. It’s vexing because modern humans simply are not wired to connect emotionally with a threat that manifests over long periods of time. The way our brains and nervous systems evolved, we are better suited dealing with imminent threats, but if you read Bloomberg’s editorial, he makes a pretty good case that climate change isn’t something happening remotely in the arctic, or off in the distant future. It’s happening here and now. And while we don’t know all the reasons for it, to ignore or to deny it is simply not a policy I want to support.

How many other Americans feel that way will determine, in part, the outcome of this election. My feeling is that given the timing of Hurricane Sandy, the way it played out in the ground zero of the media industry may have a tangible effect -- because of all the research I’ve seen tossed around this election cycle, the ones I’ve found most telling are the ones that tackle deep-rooted emotions and anxieties. Yes, we’re all anxious about the economy, geopolitical unrest, personal rights, etc., but when you strip all of it away, it comes down to who people believe will be a better leader -- who will keep us safe, out of harm’s way, and ensure that we have secure futures.

The research I’m talking about usually poses a question asking voters who they would prefer to have as captain of a ship in a storm, or as commander in chief during an alien invasion of our planet. And I think you know who wins on that basis. So the question really is how much of an influence Sandy has on making voters feel like they’re lost at sea or that the very planet is in peril.


13 comments about "The Most Important Presidential Campaign Spot You Will Never See".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 2, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.

    How will the people on Staten Island be voting? Are they beginning to feel like the people on rooftops during Katrina?

  2. Tom Goosmann from True North Inc., November 2, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.

    As stated in the far-left leaning Wikipedia: "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and scientists are more than 90% certain that it is primarily caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation."

    What irks me about the issue is there is no debate from the climate-change deniers. Romney snickers and with a wave of his well-tanned hand dismisses it before the country, effectively reinforces every bit of naysaying being pushed by Fox News and their ilk.

    I'll give a pass to Obama for not making it a primary campaign point. He would have been accused of trying to divert attention from the economy, which he didn't do. But if re-elected, it's important we hold him to the commitments of changing the course of persistent damage being done to a fragile planet. And the answer is not higher sea walls.

  3. Dan Barron from Conroy Barron Public Relations, November 2, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.

    Can't I get just a teensy little peak at that important campaign spot? Pretty please?
    Love it. Well put, Joe.

  4. Michael Dodge from AtomicOnline, LLC, November 2, 2012 at 2:31 p.m.

    Thank you! So glad to see someone call out Romney for snickering about climate change! You give to em' Joe!

  5. Lowell Hussey from MobGenius, November 2, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.

    I think there are three broad swaths of climate changer deniers:
    1] "6000 year old earth folks" didn't see climate change in the bible, hence, no prob.
    2]"Don't want to hear its", know on some level that something horrible is happening but don't want to give up SUV or face costs of fixing our mess.
    3] "Realists" used to be "Don't want to hear its"; know its too late to fix the problem, will let the grandkids shoulder the costs of domes and sun-screen SPF 3000.

  6. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 2, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.

    What was the cause of the last big NYC storm in the 1880s? Or the one a hundred years before that? Of course the climatologists believe in global warming. That's how they get grant money from the government.

  7. Tom Collins from Windsor Media Enterprises, Inc., November 2, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.

    Actually, a version of your fantasy ad is already up on YouTube, from

  8. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., November 2, 2012 at 3:08 p.m.

    @Tom Collins, thank you for pointing that out and sharing the link. Explains why I'm a trade editor and not a copywriter or YouTube video producer.

  9. Joe Mandese from MediaPost Inc., November 2, 2012 at 3:12 p.m.

    By the way, if anyone is serious about understanding the psyches of American views on the threat of climate change, you should check out Anthony Leiserowtiz's work at Yale. He runs the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, and fielded research and wrote the report on Global Warming's "Six Americas:"

    It shows the spectrum from alarmists to naysayers and puts their point-of-views into an objective, academic context that is good for anyone an any side of the hexagon to think about.

  10. Stan Valinski from Multi-Media Solutions Group, November 2, 2012 at 4:22 p.m.

    Way to go Joe. I remember the laughter. People like this Ferguson chap feel obligated to be the johnny Appleseed of ignorance... denying science for political reasons. The tunnel vision of conservatives is sad. These laugher's are the same people that boo a gay war hero and try real hard to let any nut have quick access to AK 47s.

  11. Rex Invincible from First Love Productions, November 2, 2012 at 4:23 p.m.

    Unbelievable! Tell the New Yorkers without power, gas and food, eating out of garbage cans now that Cuomo and Bloomberg will "keep them safe", "out of harms way" and "ensure they have a secure future. Democrats had a chance to 'save the planet' -the Empty Chair gave you Obamacare. They rely on useful idots to vote them into office - Post Sandy New York is the perfect real life, real time picture of what you get for your vote -democrats who can't "do" anything ...if you'd pick the Empty Chair as the captain of a ship in a storm or during an alien invasion - you deserve your Darwin award.

  12. John Grono from GAP Research, November 2, 2012 at 6:02 p.m.

    Rex, nice to know that it is possible to "save the planet" in just four short years. Obviously there must be such a simple solution hiding away somewhere that we can keep putting off doing anything until the very last minute as the myopia of the climate-change deniers makes them seem to think.

  13. Rex Invincible from First Love Productions, November 2, 2012 at 7:41 p.m.

    JG: True ...
    but the Empty Chair didn't even TRY!
    I got it, the demos voice more concern about 'the planet' ....that's not good enough for my vote.
    Here's a good, hour long documentary about democratic voters from 2008
    "The Hope and the Change"
    God Bless us all.

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