Skip to comments.GOP to Run an Ad for Bush on Terror Issue (article+video)
Posted on 11/21/2003 1:12:10 PM PST by sdk7x7
**See my comment for link to video and script**
November 21, 2003 G.O.P. to Run an Ad for Bush on Terror Issue By JIM RUTENBERG
ASHINGTON, Nov. 20 After months of sustained attacks against President Bush in Democratic primary debates and commercials, the Republican Party is responding this week with its first advertisement of the presidential race, portraying Mr. Bush as fighting terrorism while his potential challengers try to undermine him with their sniping.
The new commercial gives the first hint of the themes Mr. Bush's campaign is likely to press in its early days. It shows Mr. Bush, during the last State of the Union address, warning of continued threats to the nation: "Our war against terror is a contest of will, in which perseverance is power," he says after the screen flashes the words, "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists."
By indirectly invoking the Sept. 11 attacks, the commercial plays to what White House officials have long contended is Mr. Bush's biggest political advantage: his initial handling of the aftermath of the attacks.
Republican Party officials said that television stations in Iowa were to begin broadcasting the commercial on Sunday, the day before a televised Democratic debate there. The commercial is to continue running through Tuesday and will also probably be broadcast in New Hampshire about the time of the next debate, which is scheduled to take place there two weeks later. The party said it was spending roughly $100,000 for the initial broadcast of the advertisement, which seemed intended for voters in the states with the first contests, as well as for the journalists who cover the race.
The Bush campaign has sought to keep a low profile and put off overt electioneering for as long as possible. But some Republicans are worried about Mr. Bush's popularity, and, officials acknowledge, some Bush supporters have pressed for a response to the avalanche of Democratic critiques of his performance in office, which have been extensively covered on television.
Still, the White House has sought to keep distance from this first commercial. It is not a product of the president's campaign committee, but was paid for and produced by the Republican National Committee.
The party has acted as a proxy for Mr. Bush while he tries to maintain the appearance of being above the political fray.
Bush campaign officials have been reluctant to discuss when they intend to broadcast their own commercials, but suggest they will come in mid-March, when they expect the Democrats to settle on their nominee.
Jim Dyke, the Republican National Committee's communications director, said the party did not believe that the Democrats' attacks were hurting Mr. Bush. Even so, he said, the time seemed right to provide a contrast to what Mr. Dyke called the negativism of the Democratic field which he said had rallied around policies that are in sharp contrast with Mr. Bush's and, he argued, out of step with mainstream America.
"It's fine to say Iraq's wrong, Afghanistan's wrong," Mr. Dyke said. "But what we're talking about is the safety of the American people and who's putting forth the policies to address it."
Mr. Dyke added, "What we're going to start doing is point to the positive policies of this president and this party and present the sharp contrast in approach and also in tone."
The 30-second advertisement gives the first sampling of the powerful array of images Mr. Bush's campaign team will have at its disposal when it begins what is expected to be a formidable advertising campaign.
With somber strings playing in the background, the commercial flashes the words "Strong and Principled Leadership" before cutting to Mr. Bush standing before members of Congress. Intended to call out the Democrats for their opposition to Mr. Bush's military strategy of pre-emptively striking those who pose threats to the nation, the screen flashes "Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others," then urges viewers to tell Congress "to support the president's policy of pre-emptive self defense."
As the Democrats have seized on Mr. Bush's tenure as a rallying cry for the party's primary voters, some analysts and political scientists have questioned why Republicans have not responded more strongly.
According to the Wisconsin University Advertising Project, which has access to a computer system owned by a media research firm called TNS/CMAG that tracks political advertisements shown on television, many of the roughly $10 million worth of Democratic candidate and issue ads that have run so far have been either directly or indirectly critical of Mr. Bush.
A new commercial for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts superimposes Mr. Bush's likeness over images of toxic clean-up crews and smog-spewing smokestacks while a narrator says the president "sided with polluters, not taxpayers," and "let corporate lobbyists rewrite our environmental laws."
In one ad, Representative Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri says, "I want to stop George Bush and fight for America's middle class" after speaking with a man and woman who discuss financial problems.
It is unclear whether these commercials have hurt Mr. Bush much at this point. Democrats can point to poll numbers that show his support has fallen since the primary season began. For instance, the latest Los Angeles Times poll found a drop of 11 points in the number of people who said they believed the president had a clear notion of where he wanted to lead the country since March, falling to 45 percent from 56 percent.
"It is clear that the cumulative weight of it all has inflicted a fair amount of damage," Jim Mulhall, a communications strategist for the Democratic National Committee, said of the candidates' critiques. "The fact that the president is going on television a year out from the election is a reflection of nervousness on their part about his continued political deterioration."
He also said use of the State of the Union address ran the risk of reminding people of the disputed intelligence Mr. Bush relied on to claim that Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa.
But in a recent memorandum to Republican Party and Bush campaign officials, Matthew Dowd, a chief Bush adviser, noted that several polls showed his approval rating as steady or moving slightly higher.
Still, some experts warned that the Republican Party would ignore the Democratic attacks at its own peril.
"Advertising matters when there's a one-sided flow of information," said Ken Goldstein, director of the Wisconsin advertising project. "Clearly the R.N.C. and the Bush campaign were beginning to believe that the drum beat of Democratic advertising, in addition to the attention the Democrats were getting in the free media, created a one-sided drum beat against the president."
Compared with the last time a sitting president ran for re-election without a primary opponent, the Republicans are behind the advertising curve.
President Bill Clinton presented his first advertisements in June 1995, an extraordinarily early campaign that some of his strategists credited with having an important role in preparing the way for his re-election.
Bill Dal Col, a Republican consultant who ran Steve Forbes's primary campaigns in 1996 and 2000, argued that Mr. Clinton was a far weaker candidate then than Mr. Bush is now, and was under even greater political fire when he started his campaign.
Still, he said, the new Republican commercial was a smart bid to shape the Democratic debate from the sidelines. "In this case you balance the harsh attacks coming, but you also suck up resources they're raising and force them to spend money now," he said.
Darrell West, a political scientist at Brown University, called the commercial a "clever strategy."
"It gives Republicans one more means to defend the president," Mr. West said. "If they stay silent, the next six months are going to be filled with Bush bashing. It's never good to leave an information vacuum."
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: "It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known." CHYRON: Strong and Principled Leadership PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: "Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power." CHYRON: Some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists. PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?" CHYRON: Some call for us to retreat, putting our national security in the hands of others. CHYRON: Call Congress Now CHYRON: Tell them to support the President's policy of preemptive self-defense. REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN ED GILLESPIE: "The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising." CHYRON: Ed Gillespie CHYRON: Chairman, RNC CHYRON: The Republican National Committee paid for and is responsible for the content of this advertising. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee. www.gop.com
To obtain a tape of the ad contact Katie Levinson at the RNC at 202-863-8614.
Ohhh. The left wing po-Saddam protestors and their left wing politicians. Pulling down that statue as if Bush were wrong and evil Saddam was good will come back to haunt them - and they were so proud of that one! LOL.
Like having half their paychecks stolen to support Democrat vote buying? If they don't know where their money is going by now, they need to hire a money manager! Hello! Gepfart and his minions on the left are stealing it from youuuuu. DUH!
Which is hillarious because that's all the Dems have been doing on the campaign trail is bashing Bush over the war. Heaven forbid Bush should be able to lash back after being attacked month after month after month.
They've been politisizing the war since 9/11. They don't have anything else!
The libs may find themselves "outed" as being Pro-Saddam.
The pro-Saddam protestors have helped us a lot.
That's why Bush was happy saying he loved free speech everytime the press asked him about it. It was a gold mine for us.
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