"They have more fans around the world than Britney Spears does," said McCain campaign manager Rick Davis. "This is the kind of campaign that Barack Obama is running." The ad features Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and questions Mr. Obama's leadership abilities.
Mr. Davis said Mr. Obama's overseas trip was all about celebrity, while Mr. McCain's campaign stops are about substance.
"The focus is on media. The focus on events and activities is something you expect more from someone releasing a new movie, rather than running for president," he said, adding that Mr. McCain is a "global leader" and Mr. Obama a "global celebrity."
Steve Schmidt, a top McCain adviser, said Ms. Spears, Ms. Hilton and Mr. Obama are together in the ad because they are the world's three biggest celebrities. He said it is "beyond dispute" that Mr. Obama is the biggest celebrity in the world. "It is a statement of fact. The question we are posing to the American people is this: Is he ready to lead?"
"Do the American people want to elect the biggest celebrity or an American hero?" asked Mr. Schmidt, adding that Mr. McCain was "more a global leader than a global personality."
The McCain ad is slated to run in 11 states.
The Obama campaign declined direct comment on the celebrity charge, but said it was another example of a McCain negative attack. "On a day when major news organizations across the country are taking Sen. McCain to task for a steady stream of false, negative attacks, his campaign has launched yet another. Or, as some might say, 'Oops! He did it again,'" a campaign spokesman said.
The Democratic National Committee accused the McCain campaign of trying to draw attention away from actual issues. "While John McCain is focused like a laser beam on pressing issues like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, the American people still don't know where John McCain stands on the issue of raising payroll taxes," said spokesman Brad Woodhouse.