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Candidates’ Christmas commercials grab spotlight; McCain recounts Dec. 25 in Vietnam

MANCHESTER, N.H. (BP)–The early start of the presidential season has forced the candidates to walk a tightrope during the Christmas season, trying to grab voters’ attention but not being a nuisance in what is normally a non-political time.

With the Iowa caucuses less than two weeks away on Jan. 3 and the New Hampshire primary a mere five days later, candidates of both parties have released advertisements with a Christmas theme.

Republican John McCain is airing a television spot in New Hampshire and South Carolina recounting how, as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, he remembered the true meaning of Christmas thanks to a friendly prison camp guard. A more detailed account of his experience has been posted on his website and has gotten plenty of attention on weblogs:

“[M]y captors would tie my arms behind my back and then loop the rope around my neck and ankles so that my head was pulled down between my knees. I was often left like that throughout the night.

“One night a guard came into my cell. He put his finger to his lips signaling for me to be quiet, and then loosened my ropes to relieve my pain. The next morning, when his shift ended, the guard returned and retightened the ropes, never saying a word to me.

“A month or so later, on Christmas Day, I was standing in the dirt courtyard when I saw that same guard approach me. He walked up and stood silently next to me, not looking or smiling at me. After a few moments had passed, he rather nonchalantly used his sandaled foot to draw a cross in the dirt. We stood wordlessly looking at the cross, remembering the true light of Christmas, even in the darkness of a Vietnamese prison camp. After a minute or two, he rubbed it out and walked away.

“That guard was my Good Samaritan. I will never forget that man and I will never forget that moment. And I will never forget that, no matter where you are, no matter how difficult the circumstances, there will always be someone who will pick you up and carry you.”

On the Democratic side Hillary Clinton’s campaign released an advertisement showing her sitting on the couch, wrapping gifts with various tags. One gift reads, “universal care,” another one, “alternative energy.” After watching several more gifts wrapped, the viewer then sees a puzzled Clinton looking at the pile of presents.

“Where did I put universal pre-K? … Ah! There it is,” she says.

Republican Mike Huckabee started the Christmas-theme wave with his much-debated TV advertisement showing him in a red sweater, sitting in front of a Christmas tree and asking viewers if they are “worn out” by all the political commercials.

“At this time of year, sometimes it’s nice to pull aside from all of that and just remember that what really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ and being with our family and friends,” he says. “And I hope that you and your friends will have a magnificent Christmas season.”

The commercial received national attention because some saw a “floating cross” behind Huckabee. Instead, it was only a white bookshelf. His campaign said it was the second-most watched video on YouTube.com Dec. 19.
Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press

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