The 2008 presidential campaign was unusual for a number of reasons. For the first time since 1952, neither the President nor the Vice President contended for the Oval Office. This meant highly contested primaries in both major political parties. As the Democratic primary ground toward the end, the leading candidates were an African-American–Barack Obama–and a woman–Hillary Clinton. More money was raised and spent on the primary campaign than ever before. This means that the campaign messages in this election deserve scholarly attention. This study applies Benoit’s Functional Theory and Petrocik’s Issue Ownership Theory to primary campaign ads from both major parties in this campaign. Ads from both political parties used acclaims more than attacks (no defenses occurred in these ads) and discussed policy more than character. They discussed the issues owned by their own party more than those owned by the opposing party. Despite the unusual features of this election, the campaign mes-sages produced were similar to those from previous campaigns.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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