Over the last several days there have been reports of more and more negative ads coming out from the Obama campaign. There are two negative radio ads playing in Wisconsin and Ohio; a negative television ad in Ohio aimed at the potential DHL job cuts; a negative television ad in Indiana on the economy; a negative television ad in Nevada on the proposed Yucca mountain nuclear waste disposal facility; and the ad titled "Embrace" which depict as a Washington inside celebrity.
Now, of course, none of these ads are getting the attention of the Beltway pundits, at least not to the extent of McCain's ads attacking Obama as a celebrity. They are flying below the radar, seemingly aimed at key states where Obama is either slightly ahead (Ohio); slightly behind (Nevada); or states which Obama is attempting to put into play (Indiana).
This lack of relative attention may be the point. On the one hand all the publicity about the Paris Hilton/Britney Spears ad helped McCain. On the other hand, according to polls like one from Pew Research, the public perceives McCain as running more negative ads than Obama. By waiting until McCain went negative first, the Obama campaign looks like it is only responding to McCain's own negativity.
The reason why that is important is that there has been a lot of chatter from the talking heads that if Obama goes negative he runs the risk of looking as something "different". According to the talking heads this appearance of "different" is what attracts relatively younger voters to his cause. (Such an analysis, by the way, is rather insulting to younger voters. Here's a thought: maybe, just maybe, they are fed up with a government that gets us tied down in a needless war in Iraq; transfers billions of dollars from the poor and middle class to the wealthy; and can't even competently run the goverment.)
So, this way, Obama has the best of both worlds. His campaign gets to run negative ads, but doesn't take the heat for being the ones to initially go negative. So, the question is, was this intentional or was it just luck?
We will probably never know, or if ever do know, it will be long after the campaign when people are writing their memoirs. Given the intelligent way, however, the Obama campaign has conducted itself so far, it probably was very intentional.