The most impressive strategy I've seen from the McCain campaign thus far is it's ability to create and spread media without spending any money. The recipe for this has been remarkable simple. Create webads (or low media buy ads) with a little bit of controversy in them. For instance the already famous "Celebrity" ad starring Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. This ad has become so noteworthy that Paris Hilton responded with her own ad, Hilton's mother spoke out (as she is a major McCain donor) and myriad terrible internet parodies were spawned. Out of indignity and attempted mockery came a gazillion dollars worth of free ad time for John McCain.
Now comes this latest web ad:
Already the band is getting ginned up for another round of, "this is racist and disrespectful". Just check out this post on TPM and the comment thread. How much do you want to bet that this hits the mainstream media in the next two days. This is precisely what the McCain campaign wants. I recognize calling any criticism of Obama racist was a pretty effective strategy in the primary, but this is a different situation and entirely different demographic. One which, it is sad to say, is unlikely to be persuaded by such a criticism. But there's a bigger principle at stake here, because in this case the criticisms are simply wrong. Just because this ad mocks Obama love (I mean it shows a girl stating explicitly that she "loves the softness" in Obama's eyes) doesn't mean that this is attempting to play on racism. It is, to sadly quote a legal term, facially neutral, and quite possibly nothing more than an attempt to mock youthful support and irrationality, not try to create a, "Where the white women at?" moment.
Ultimately when it comes to these sorts of ads the best response is simply to ignore them and attack on issues. This isn't swiftboating, it isn't challenging Obama's past or credentials. Simply put, there is no good way to respond to these ads, only a good way to get more people to pay attention. I actually think the campaign itself is doing a pretty good job with this, it's rather Obama's rather passionate internet supporters that drive this story on blogs, which then drives the story in the MSM. So those that are made angry by this ad I would caution outrage and instead suggest that in the long run there is less to be outraged about when fewer people see the "offensive" material.