A Pair Of Clinton Ads

September 22, 1992|By Susan Baer | Susan Baer,Washington Bureau

"Curtains," a 30-second spot for Bill Clinton, one of two ads that started airing this week in markets including Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Maine, Connecticut, Oregon, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Louisiana at a cost of roughly $2 million.

Visuals: Images of George Bush making rosy pronouncements about jobs and the economy at speeches and press conferences alternating with words on the screen that sharply contrast with his statements.

Script: Narrator: "1988"

Bush: "30 million jobs in the next eight years."

Narrator: "1990. America's jobless rate hits a three year high."

Bush: "I'm not prepared to say we are in recession."

Narrator: "March 1992. Jobless rate hits six year high."

Bush: "The economy is strengthening."

Narrator: "George Bush vetoes unemployment compensation."

Bush: "The economy continues to grow."

Narrator: "July 1992. Unemployment is the highest in 8 years. If George Bush doesn't understand the problem, how can he solve it? We can't afford four more years."

Analysis: In the first negative ad of the fall election campaign, the Clinton camp zeroes in on the economy, the issue considered Mr. Bush's key vulnerability, the most pressing to voters and thus the theme the Democrats are relentlessly trying to frame the election around.

The ad lets the president's own words do the pounding -- Mr. Clinton has denied that this is a negative ad since it uses Mr. Bush's own words -- and reinforces the concept that the president is a leader out of touch with the economic realities of the country.

While the statements on the screen, quoted from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are accurate, they are not always juxtaposed with Bush quotes from the same time period. The March 1992 statement about the jobless rate, for instance, is preceded by a statement Mr. Bush made in November, 1991.

"Rebuild America," 30 seconds.

Visuals: Bill Clinton, in shirtsleeves and loosened tie and looking off camera, speaks forcefully and hurriedly about his economic ideas, making fists for emphasis, holding up a copy of his lTC economic plan. Interspersed with image of Mr. Clinton are phrases -- "Income is down," "Higher unemployment," "Failed health care system" -- that highlight his comments. The ad ends with an 800 number viewers are invited to call for a copy of the economic plan.

Script: Bill Clinton: "We've been under trickle down economics for 12 years. Just keep taxes low on the wealthy and see what happens. Well, I'll tell you what happens. Most Americans are working harder for less money; unemployment's up; health care costs are exploding; we are not doing what it takes to compete and win. I've worked hard on a different plan. Let's give incentives to invest in new jobs. Let's spend more on education and training. Let's provide basic health care to all Americans. Putting our people first. Rebuilding this economy. Making us competitive. If we do those things, we'll compete and win. And we'll bring this country back."

Analysis: The ad is again focusing on the economy, pointing out the failings of the Bush administration -- without a direct attack -- and suggesting that a Clinton plan will turn the country around. But the prescription offered is vague and general, as is the conclusion that, "We'll compete and win," if we simply follow his plan. By holding up a copy of his economic plan, the candidate gives the impression of having a specific, workable solution. Together, the two ads play like a "Good Cop, Bad Cop" attack on the Bush economic record.

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