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Obama Ad Makes Clean Technology the First Contention Point of the Election Season

We’re still over 10 months from election day, but President Obama’s first major campaign advertisement of the 2012 cycle is already hitting the air . After three years of a term characterized by flailing finances and dissipating foreign wars, the ad touted the president’s record in a somewhat surprising area: green energy technology.

Titled “Unprecedented,” the 30 second ad has already begun airing in several key swing states, among them North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. Although the Obama team rolled out an advertisement in November looking for campaign volunteers, this spot is effectively the president’s first political ad of the cycle. Green technology, consequently, can be said to represent the first explicit and televised political argument of the 2012 campaign.

So how did the argument go? As could be expected, “Unprecedented” congratulated Obama’s record in the clean energy realm by painting him as a green job creator and as a president determined to reduce America’s dependence on oil, primarily that of the foreign variety. Specifically, the ad cited a Brookings Institution report that there are now 2.7 million green tech jobs in the United States. It went on to note that the nation has reduced its energy imports for the first time in decades, bringing foreign oil to below 50 percent of our total energy usage. The ad was released just as Obama announced a continued freeze on the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

The Republican response was a predictably disparaging one. Faster than it takes to search out “green energy” in the whitepages, GOP leaders shot back by saying that most of the 2.7 million green jobs noted by the Obama ad had existed before his presidency. Instead, according to the GOP, green technology jobs have grown by only 3.4 percent during the Obama years. Moreover, the decline in foreign oil dependence can be credited to the economic recession, natural gas growth in the private sector, and the policies of the Bush administration – but not to any Obama agenda.

The truth of Obama’s record probably lies somewhere between these two partisan polarities. With the GOP is correct in questioning the direct role the president’s policies have played in advancing green technology over the past three years, there is little doubt that the current administration has been highly supportive of the alternative energy sector – including, of course, risky subsidies to Solyndra. Whether another candidate could better facilitate green technology growth remains to be seen. But with the ad’s airing, now is as good a time as ever to begin the discussion.

Article by Amanda Green, a guest blogger that has written extensively on the subject of technology and business.