(Associated Press) John Weiler is a Southern California police detective, a Republican, an Air Force veteran and self-described conservative. He is starring in a television commercial in support of Barack Obama.
Top entertainment figures, including Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, selected the ad in a contest run by the liberal group MoveOn.org for the best 30-second pro-Obama television spot.
“I’m a veteran, I served under President Ronald Reagan and under the first President Bush,” Weiler says in the ad. “I’ve been a Republican since before I could actually vote. We need somebody in the White House that is strong. We need somebody who’s gonna represent the left and the right, the Democrat and the Republican, everybody. I’m a lifelong Republican and I’m voting for Barack Obama.”
MoveOn is spending $200,000 to air the ad for one week in Cincinnati, Denver and Milwaukee, all cities in states considered general election battlegrounds. The ad will also air nationally on cable networks.
Weiler, 43, stepped into his moment of fame because he didn’t want his pregnant wife to attend an Obama volunteers meeting last fall by herself.
“She’s a Democrat; I’m a Republican. It makes for a fun marriage,” he said.
He said he was open to aspects of Obama’s message that matched his own – moving away from divisive politics, opposition to the war in Iraq, and support for veterans. After the volunteers meeting, he said, he began to pay closer attention, listening to Obama’s ads and watching him in debates.
He served in the Air Force from 1983 to 1989, leaving the service as a master sergeant. He said he has two nephews in the Air Force and one nephew attending Army tanker school and has grown to oppose the war in Iraq.
“We need to get out,” he said in an interview. “We’re not going to settle the problems that the country has. … They’ve been fighting like that for thousands of years and a couple of months of American occupation is not going to change an entire life of political and religious views.”
MoveOn received more than 1,100 ads for its contest. They ranged from cartoons to musicals to puppet shows. The ad’s producers were David Gaw and Lance Mungia of Monrovia, Calif.
The contest reprised MoveOn’s “Bush in 30 seconds” ad competition in 2004. MoveOn organizers said the contest drew 5.5 million votes cast online. The judges chose the winner from a pared-down list of entries. Other judges included writer and film director Oliver Stone, singer and songwriter John Legend and author Naomi Wolf.