Page last updated at 11:41 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 12:41 UK

Obama dismisses McCain ad attack

Barack Obama arrives at Midway airport in Chicago, July 27, 2008.
Republicans accuse Mr Obama of being more of a celebrity than a leader

White House hopeful Barack Obama has hit back over a TV ad which questions his readiness to lead the US.

Republican John McCain's campaign released the ad, which juxtaposes images of Mr Obama with those of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

Titled "Celeb", the ad calls Mr Obama the "biggest celebrity in the world", but questions his economic policies.

The Democrat responded by accusing his rival of negative campaigning, and of only revealing what he was against.

"You need to ask John McCain what he's for, not just what he's against," Mr Obama said while on the campaign trail in Missouri.

The ad shows images of the Illinois senator speaking to a 200,000-strong crowd in Berlin last week, interspersed with shots of celebrities Spears and Hilton.

The ad, set to be broadcast in nearly a dozen key states, was followed by a rival ad from Mr Obama's own campaign team.

John McCain's latest campaign ad and Barack Obama's response

It accuses Mr McCain of practising the "policies of the past", and uses images of him with President George W Bush.

Mr Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, told MSNBC the McCain ad was "balony".

"I am going to paraphrase, oops he did it again," he said, playing off the title of a Britney Spears song and album. "This is not the John McCain we expected."

Rapper row

The Republicans have been keen to stress their belief that Mr Obama is not tested, not ready to lead and too out of touch with the public.

This latest ad is a cleverer effort I think at debunking Obama - less angry than the military hospital attempt but sowing the seeds of doubt

The Democrats have meanwhile distanced themselves from lyrics by supporter and rapper Ludacris, which brag about an Obama presidency being destiny, call President Bush "mentally handicapped" and say Mr McCain doesn't belong "in any chair unless he is paralysed".

Mr McCain's campaign manager said it was up to the American people to decide what was positive or negative.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to protect my candidate and to define the race in terms that I think are appropriate," said Rick Davis.

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