Barack Obama is buying a half-hour slot on television networks in prime time on Oct. 29, the anniversary of Black Tuesday of 1929, when panic in the stock markets set in ahead of the Great Depression.
Obama, leaving a campaign stop in a diner in Georgetown, Ohio, on Thursday evening, declined to say whether he planned to address the current economic crisis in the context of the depression.
He wouldn’t talk about the nature of the programming, saying, “We’re going to be talking about it tomorrow.”
Linda Douglass, a senior adviser to Obama, confirmed Thursday evening that the campaign has purchased time on NBC and CBS. She said that the campaign would buy airtime on Fox, unless the network is carrying a World Series game that night, and that no arrangement had been made with ABC.
Douglass also wouldn’t release any information about how much the airtime is costing the campaign or any information about the programming. The last candidate to make such a purchase was Ross Perot in 1992.
The ads will run six days before the Nov. 4 election, following weeks of economic crisis, including massive stock-market losses, global investor panic and Congress’ passage of a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street.
The crisis has given Obama a lead in national polls, and state-by-state polls suggest he is within a few votes of a having a majority in the Electoral College, if the balloting were held today.
Obama, who opted out of the federal campaign financing system, has raised far more money than McCain, who accepted federal funding and whose expenditures, as a result, are limited to $84 million.
At a Thursday town-hall meeting in Wisconsin, McCain questioned Obama’s fundraising.
"Now for the first time since Watergate we now have a candidate who has taken unlimited amounts of money and obviously serious questions have already been raised about how some of that money came in."
With the bigger war chest, Obama has consistently outspent McCain on television ads in battleground states.
The McCain campaign had no immediate response to the Obama ad buy and it wasn’t clear whether the Republicans would have the money to make a similar purchase.
(Talev reported from Ohio. William Douglas in Wisconsin contributed to this article.)