P.S. Disregard The “Right-Wing Ideologue” Part; It’s Not McCain That He’s Interested In . . .

As seemingly every Times columnist this week argued against Clinton continuing the charade, several of us wondered where Clinton apologist Paul Krugman stood on the matter. Now we know:

Mr. McCain, we’re told, is a straight-talking maverick. But on domestic policy, he offers neither straight talk nor originality; instead, he panders shamelessly to right-wing ideologues.

Mrs. Clinton, we’re assured by sources right and left, tortures puppies and eats babies. But her policy proposals continue to be surprisingly bold and progressive.

Finally, Mr. Obama is widely portrayed, not least by himself, as a transformational figure who will usher in a new era. But his actual policy proposals, though liberal, tend to be cautious and relatively orthodox.

Do these policy comparisons really tell us what each candidate would be like as president? Not necessarily — but they’re the best guide we have.

Spot Runner

A new site that will do for political media consultants what Redfin did for real-estate agents:

Political campaign season is upon us and that means one thing: really bad political ads on TV. There are 50,000 public elections every year in the United States. And an estimated $3 billion will be spent on political TV ads alone in 2008. Spot Runner wants to get in on the action, and maybe even raise the quality of the ads a little, by turning its self-serve TV advertising platform over to politicians. Today it is launching a political section of its site, where both national and local political campaigns can create TV ads for as little as $500 and run them in highly targeted cities and even neighborhoods. It has also assembled a high-powered political advisory board that includes former Senator Bill Bradley and political strategists Mike Murphy, Dan Schnur and Bob Shrum.

Spot Runner so far has focused mostly on making it easy for local businesses and national franchises to buy TV ads on both cable and network TV. To keep costs down, the company shoots different ads which can be modified by each customer, and lets them target the ads by neighborhood. The ad selection and media planning is all self-serve and automated over the Internet. Now the company wants to help level the playing field in political campaigns, especially local ones that may not have as much money for TV ads. CEO Nick Grouf tells me:

One reason we started Spot Runner was during the 2004 campaign we found out you can do better targeting using TV than the Internet. The two big barriers were the cost of creating an ad, and challenges around the fundamental media buying and planning that need to occur.

He believes Spot Runner has begun to solve those challenges. To start with, Spot Runner has created 22 generic ad templates that can be further modified, which cover issues ranging from taxes and education to immigration and leadership. Campaigns add video images of the candidate and tweak the script any way they like. Spot Runner will record the voiceovers. And if new footage needs to be shot of the candidate on the campaign trail or working hard in Congress, Spot Runner can supply the camera crew (in January it purchased GlobeShooters, a network of about 1,500 video professionals).

Did I Say “Head Archivist”? I Meant “File Clerk” . . .

After successfully keeping the story alive for like two weeks now, she finally admits that perhaps some words were “misspoken”:

As part of her argument that she has the best experience and instincts to deal with a sudden crisis as president, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton recently offered a vivid description of having to run across a tarmac to avoid sniper fire after landing in Bosnia as first lady in 1996.

Yet on Monday, Mrs. Clinton admitted that she “misspoke” about the episode — a concession that came after CBS News showed footage of her walking calmly across the tarmac with her daughter, Chelsea, and being greeted by dignitaries and a child.

The backpedaling was a rare instance of Mrs. Clinton’s acknowledging an error, and she did so on a sensitive issue: She has cited her “strength and experience” since the start of the presidential race, framing her 80 trips abroad as first lady as preparation for dealing with foreign affairs as president. That argument was behind her campaign’s “red phone” commercial, which cast her as best able to handle a crisis.