Leaving no `attack' unanswered

Campaign Ad Watch

October 10, 2002|By Howard Libit

Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend began airing a television advertisement this week charging that Republican Robert L. Ehrlich is making false attacks on her positions in the gubernatorial campaign. She also highlights more of Ehrlich's congressional votes on such issues as the environment, education and crime. The ad is airing in the Washington suburbs.

What the ad says: The 30-second spot opens with the words, "More False Attacks from Robert Ehrlich," as the announcer says the same message.

"In fact, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend favors the ICC," the announcer says, as images flash on the screen of newspaper headlines and Townsend at work at her desk. "She opposes tax increases except on cigarettes."

The screen switches to a small picture of Ehrlich and the words: "The Ehrlich Record."

"Ehrlich talks about crime, but in Congress he voted against putting 100,000 new police on our streets," the announcer says. "He voted for the largest education cut in history, voted five times against raising the minimum wage, and voted to allow the dumping of industrial waste in the Chesapeake Bay."

The announcer concludes: "Ehrlich. With a record like that, no wonder he runs negative ads."

The facts: Townsend's first major policy break with Gov. Parris N. Glendening was to announce her support for building the Intercounty Connector.

Townsend also has said she will not raise taxes in her first year as governor, except perhaps cigarette taxes. But with fiscal analysts projecting that Maryland's budget shortfall has grown to $1.7 billion, Townsend has said she will not rule out any possibility to close the gap.

On Ehrlich's record, the Baltimore County congressman voted against President Clinton's 1995 plan to help put 100,000 new police officers on the streets. But he supported a GOP alternative to create a $10 billion block grant to distribute to local governments for use as they wanted in fighting crime.

Ehrlich also voted for the education spending cuts proposed by the Republican congressional leadership in 1995, though he has backed many other increases since then. The ad correctly says that Ehrlich has repeatedly opposed congressional efforts to raise the minimum wage.

In accusing Ehrlich of supporting the dumping of industrial waste in the Chesapeake Bay, the ad refers to procedural votes from 1995 and 1999 that didn't specifically mention the bay but related generally to environmental water protections.

In 1995, Ehrlich voted against a motion to send a "clean water" bill back to committee to add tougher language regarding the discharge of industrial pollution. He supported a 1999 bill that environmentalists said would have made it harder to enforce water regulations on companies.

Analysis: The spot is part of the Townsend campaign's strategy of leaving no attack unanswered. It responds to Ehrlich's recent effort to portray her support of the ICC as a "campaign conversion" that will be reversed if she is elected.

The ad also continues the Townsend campaign's effort to pound away at Ehrlich's congressional record, noting votes it believes hurt his attempts to portray himself as a moderate.

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