As President Barack Obama gears up for a highly anticipated speech before Congress on his jobs proposal, some GOP presidential hopefuls are using YouTube as their bully pulpit. Mitt Romney has maintained a steady drumbeat on the jobs issue since launching his 2012 campaign, and a summertime series of “Obama Isn’t Working” videos reflect his campaign’s broader focus on job growth. Jon Huntsman and newer entrant Rick Perry have also put out web videos recently featuring their own jobs messages.
Meanwhile, rather than using produced online video to persuade on jobs or other key election issues, the Obama campaign and Democrats are using web video mainly to rouse base supporters into volunteer action.
In the latest edition of Romney’s Obama Isn’t Working series, the owner of New Hampshire’s Manchester Central Paper Products offers his take on Right to Work – a union-related issue that is especially poignant in the early primary state, where proposed right-to-work legislation remains in flux.
Like many of these videos from the Romney camp, the candidate does not appear at all; rather, the company owner – or in the case of other videos, the job seeker or concerned citizen – is spotlighted. “We live in the ‘live free or die’ state and they can damn well choose whether they want to join an organization or not join an organization,” continues the paper company owner, referring to the right-to-work bill.
So far, Romney has released six Obama Isn’t Working videos, and backed them with in-stream video ads earlier in the campaign. The majority of his produced videos, however, home in on the jobs issue, including the most-viewed of them, “Bump in the Road,” which has been watched more than 243,000 times since its June 12 launch.
The right to work video has attracted around 6,900 views since its August 22 launch. A jobs-themed video from Rick Perry published on August 13, the day he announced his candidacy, has close to 139,000 views. Romney’s produced videos have been decidedly absent of the candidate himself. Perry’s “Time to Get America Working Again” web spot, on the other hand, features the “conservative to the core” candidate interacting with business owners and workers, and offers a more general economic message of fiscal conservatism. It touts his job creation record as Texas Governor, calling him “America’s jobs governor.”
Huntsman has also begun what promises to be a more assertive jobs related campaign push. On Tuesday, the candidate unveiled several points of his job creation strategy, along with a complementary video. The spot, entitled “Time to Compete,” uses text animation to highlight economic statistics associated with the prolonged economic downturn, coupled with panoramic shots of a motocross rider drifting across rocky Utah terrain. That footage was used extensively in the campaign’s first and perhaps most talked-about video, “Different.”
The new Huntsman video includes a voiceover of the candidate discussing his approach to job creation while he was governor of Utah. In the video, he, like Perry, is shown walking along factory floors and conversing with managers and entrepreneurs.
Persuading voters on the important issues of the day, however, is not an immediate concern for Obama for America and the Democratic National Party. Indeed, the President can use his forum as the leader of the free world to push his jobs agenda, so his campaign and party are using web video to rally supporters and inspire them to make phone calls and knock on doors on behalf of Obama. Getting out the vote in battleground states is crucial if the President is to win a second term.
A video featuring Obama 2012 campaign manager Jim Messina posted by Obama for America in July offered a status report on the campaign’s grassroots organizing operations, detailing the number of individual donations in the last quarter, and what portion of those were from small donors. The President himself was featured in a short video released in June that promoted a fundraising contest. OFA’s Battleground States Director Mitch Stewart gave a video update on the grassroots operation in May, and a video posted to the Democratic National Committee’s YouTube channel highlights the campaign’s Day of Action dedicated to recruiting supporters. “Watch organizers describe the importance of this work,” states the video description.
A month ago, a video offered a direct “thank you” from the President for letters, emails, calls and tweets from supporters of “a responsible resolution” to the debt ceiling standoff in Washington. While a few of OFA’s produced videos are aimed at persuasion – take the “How Wall Street reform is working for you” video released in July – the Obama YouTube video strategy at this point is geared towards inspiring the base to donate and volunteer.
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