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Teachers Come Around To Obama

by Will Evans
Oct 22, 2008

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John McCain is "more of the same" and "not really in touch," while Barack Obama "gets it." That's the message for eight battleground states, in a $2 million radio ad campaign by the American Federation of Teachers.

It wasn't always such a love affair between the teachers union and Obama. During the presidential primaries, AFT gave $400,000 to the American Leadership Project, which ran ads backing Hillary Clinton and attacking Obama. That 527 also switched to a new target: McCain.

The AFT ads are running until the election in Florida, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. They are tailored to each state by featuring the voices of local teachers and school staff saying — sometimes showing off their regional accents — why they think Obama is the best choice. In the New Mexico ad, someone shouts in Spanish, "Adelante Obama!"

The voices attest to "tough times" and people "struggling." The tagline delivers some variation of the message, "Barack Obama will make education a priority, jumpstart our economy and put middle class families first again." You can listen to one or all of them here.

The AFT represents 1.4 million people and is headed by Randi Weingarten, who is on the executive council of the AFL-CIO and on the Democratic National Committee. The union also helps fund American Rights At Work, which has run ads targeting Republicans in Senate races this year.

The other teachers' union, the National Education Association, stayed neutral in the primary contest between Obama and Clinton, but endorsed Obama for president as soon as the primaries ended.

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