Saturday, March 8, 2008

"We're a Group That Wants Change": Casey Knowles BEFORE the 3 AM Ad

I was going to live my real life today instead of blogging, but this is too good to pass up, both because it's funnier than heck and because it is, in a nutshell, a perfect summary of what Obama's campaign is about.

FIRST, THE BACKGROUND THAT MAKES THE STORY ACTUALLY MEAN SOMETHING: Before I repeat the story that's starting to make the news and the blogs, I'd like to start with an angle that the other media haven't caught onto yet, but that puts it into perfect perspective.

Last summer, Bonney Lake (WA) High School's student government representatives held a retreat to plan for the year, reported in the Puyallup (WA) Herald. In that article, one student leader summarized the hope that those young, bright, engaged future leaders wanted to bring, not to American politics, but just to their own high school's new school year:

Public Relations Officer Casey Knowles, another senior, said she has high hopes for this year’s student government.

“We’re a group that wants change,” Knowles said.

OK, so now you know a tiny nugget about who one Casey Knowles is: a high school senior, involved in student government, willing to invest some time over the summer in trying to make her school a better place -- and summarizing her classmates', and her generation's, ideal: "We're a group that wants change."

That's awesome! We love kids like her, who care about making the world better instead of getting a high score on Wii! But why's it news, and why today?

NOW THE STORY THAT'S STARTING TO MAKE THE ROUNDS TODAY: Casey Knowles turns out to be one of the children used in Clinton's "3 AM" ad (here, along with all its Republican "be afraid. be very afraid" antecedents), which used stock film footage from several years ago. And Casey Knowles, who had no idea her image was being used in Clinton's ad, is now not only a high school student government leader, but also a Democratic precinct captain and -- consistent with her hope for change -- a fervent Obama supporter.

So: Obama has actually earned the real-life support of a really cool, smart, involved, active young person. Clinton has merely reached back years for film footage of that cool, smart, involved, active young person when she was a child, to make an ad that the cool, smart, involved, active young person strongly disagrees with.

The future vs. the past; reality vs. images; Obama vs. Clinton. Now, ain't this the whole primary campaign in a nutshell?

News and blog stories on this can be found on the Huffington Post, the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages, TPM, and Washington State local TV. Other campaign stories here and here.

And here's the original Casey Knowles story (from an Obama press release -- see, they're NOT helpless and silent naifs when confronted with dishonest, Republican-style smear attacks):

Subject: The New Argument: Child in Clinton's 3 am Phone Ad Supports Obama
To: ***
BREAKING NEWS: Child in Clinton’s “3am Phone Ad” supports Obama
By Evan Miller • Mar 7th, 2008 • Category: Campaign '08

Casey Knowles, a High School Senior in Washington state, recently discovered she was one of the sleeping children in Clinton’s controversial “Children” ad appearing prior to the Texas primaries.

Knowles, a supporter of Barack Obama was shocked that she had contributed to the national security message of a candidate that she passionately opposes.

When asked by The New Argument, this is what Knowles had to say about her appearance in Clinton’s ad:

“While I love Hillary, I would much rather hear Barack Obama’s voice at the other end of the phone at 3am. Its hilarious and ironic that the child in Hillary’s ad is now of voting age and not her supporter. I’ve been campaigning for Barack since October and was a caucus precinct captain. I’ve been a very avid advocate of his and recruited a lot of folks to caucus for him in January. He’s inspired and mobilized so many already, he’s refreshing and quite simply the best option for people who want to change this country.”

King 5 News interviewed Casey Knowles and her family at their home after we broke the story. You may have to login to view the video, so here is the written story…

BONNEY LAKE, Wash. – The political ad that sparked nationwide controversy turns out to have a surprising local connection.

One of the actors in the Hillary Clinton ad was shocked to see herself, especially because she’s a fierce supporter of Barack Obama.

The so-called “red-phone ad” played a big role in Clinton’s win in Texas, suggesting Barack Obama is too inexperienced to handle a national crisis.

But the young girl starring in the ad will actually be voting age next month and says she’s no fan of Hillary Clinton.

Thursday night, the Knowles family of Bonney Lake, Wash., watched the John Stewart Show and saw the ad for the first time.

“I looked and saw a girl that looked like my sister and we rewound it and sure enough it was my sister,” said Brady Knowles.

The first girl in the ad is young Casey Knowles. It’s stock footage from 8 years ago when she worked as a TV extra - footage owned now by Getty Images and used by the Clinton campaign.

The dangers of stock footage

But they couldn’t have picked a more unwilling star.

“It’s really sort of ironic that my image would be used to advocate for Hillary when I myself do not,” said Casey.

She may only be 17, but Casey has some very strong political opinions. She turns 18 - legal voting age - in April, in plenty of time before the general election.

“It’s perfect timing because I have a candidate that I really identify with,” she said.

“I’ve been campaigning for Barack Obama for a few months now,” she said. “I was actually a precinct captain at the caucuses a few months ago. I attended his rally a few months ago and I’m a very, very avid supporter.”

The Knowles family admit they have no control over how the footage is used. And while they see the humor of it all, they are mildly annoyed.

“I think it would be really wonderful if me and Barack Obama could get together and make a nice counter ad,” she laughed.

Despite all of this, Casey Knowles admits if Clinton wins the party’s nomination, she will vote for her.



Leni said...

hmm, interesting story, quite a dramatic twist you have there. But yeah I think this whole 3AM ad is being milked for everything its worth in regards to the (MS)M throwing it back at Hillary and slamming her. Maybe the Obama camp and their supporters got so touchy because it just reinforces the fact that Hillary would make the better president, I mean of course that is coming from a Hillary supporter, but I am highly critical of her, I have been this whole time. That ad is not much different from most other political ads, they are always hanging "what-ifs" and the like over your head. Many dem ads touch on losing social services if you dont vote for them, or we will stay in Iraq longer if you vote for a repub, is that not "fear mongering" in some form? It really just follows a textbook formula for an ad. There is nothing evil about it and there is nothing great about it either. But yeah, thats just my personal opinion.

Oh and I was a bit irked when I read this:
"Obama has actually earned the real-life support of a really cool, smart, involved, active young person. Clinton has merely reached back years for film footage of that cool, smart, involved, active young person when she was a child, to make an ad that the cool, smart, involved, active young person strongly disagrees with."

First of all, the subject of your article does sound like a cool kid, she definitely gets all her props, yeah.

But second of all, you make it sound like Clinton has no young "cool" people supporting her, I am only a bit older than the subject of your article at 19 yrs old. I wasn't a huge overachiever in high school like she was. I have played the Wii with great conviction and I was never elected to any sort of chair. I actually did skip a lot of class my senior year and I was not 100% clean 100% of the time, I think Clinton has a way cooler supporter on her side...ok that last bit was for the lulz. But still, I think it is overlooked how the youth have contributed to campaigns other than Sen. Obamas. Have you ever seen Ron Paul supporters/ volunteers anywhere in Texas? I'm guessing no, they are about 90% young people! I see them everywhere where something is going on. And they arent voting for isn't Mr Super Slick Obama, Ron Paul is 77 yrs old I think. He has a far greater proportion of youth in his campaign than Obama does, I can promise you that. And for my candidate of choice, I was actually chosen as a delegate for my precinct here in San Antonio (im very proud of that :D), I have been volunteering with the democratic party since I was about 14. My first job was the same as Hillary Clinton's actually, registering Hispanics to vote here in South Texas, I was bout 16 then. I actually tried to be precinct captain but they gave to my mom instead, aw shucks I know. (how can this girl be one when she is only 17? did I read that right? that makes no sense, well not here in Texas anyway) But yeah I think its not fair that "youth voting" automatically equals "Sen. Barack Obama". I'm am not saying you absolutely think that...thats just the idea I was getting, and in many places it is more explicitly expressed.
And I will tell what it's like from the POV of a College Freshman (that still hangs with some high schoolers) who supports Hillary Clinton. When you talk politics with your peers it kinda sucks...I get slammed so much for supporting her, for volunteering for her, for going to her rallies, for voting for her. I dont want to speak for anyone else but I assume lots of young people who support her do...Can you really tell us we are kids who DONT want change? Change that can be made with experience and aptitude relying on specific plans, yeah. "change" to believe in as a sort of mantra and tagline? no thanks, I'll pass. I am not even sure what I am going to be believing in. But once again, that's just my opinion.
yeah supporting Obama is definitely the cool thing to do, if not the right thing to do.

was that long enough? sorry uncool kids like me forget what I am typing about halfway through ;)

Anonymous said...


While I wish you saw through Clinton's facade -- and I hate to say this, but a little age and experience do help folks get better at seeing through people -- you're still my new favorite commenter. You obviously care a lot, and you back that up with participation, so you've got my props. Keep up the good work -- the party's really, really lucky to have people like you! Thanks for dropping by, thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

Interesting take on this by Ben Smith over at Politico. True he's a hardcore Clinton backer who's just one loose screw shy of being Taylor Marsh, but interesting nonetheless...