For Townsend, a return to basics

Campaign Ad Watch

October 17, 2002|By Howard Libit

Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend began airing a television advertisement this week in which she restates her basic campaign platform and pledges she will work for Maryland's families. The ad is airing statewide.

What the ad says: The 30-second spot opens with Townsend looking directly into the camera.

"The next governor will confront great challenges and critical choices, and how we decide will define Maryland's future," Townsend says.

"I'm committed to invest more in children and our schools, to expand Maryland's historic prescription drug benefit for seniors, to protect the bay and to enforce our gun safety laws," Townsend says.

With each promise, the words appear on the screen as accompanying images flash by - Townsend visiting a school, chatting with senior citizens and talking to police officers.

"On all these issues and more, my opponent has voted with the extreme wing of the Republican Party," the lieutenant governor says, as the ad returns to her looking toward the camera and walking toward it. "I've made a different choice. I've stood for Maryland's families. And as governor, every day, I'll fight for you."

The facts: The winner of next month's election will face significant challenges, including closing Maryland's projected $1.7 billion budget shortfall.

In Townsend's 32-page "Blueprint for Maryland's Future," she pledges to support more funding for public schools and early childhood education programs.

Her blueprint also includes plans to give larger prescription drug discounts to senior citizens who don't have coverage, to implement the Chesapeake Bay Agreement and to enforce the Ceasefire strategy of reducing gun crimes.

Townsend charges that Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has voted with the "extreme wing" of the GOP. While he has voted for many Republican initiatives, he has broken with the far-right on a number of issues, including supporting background checks for gun purchases and abortion rights.

Analysis: With Election Day less than three weeks away, the spot signals a new phase in the Townsend campaign's advertising strategy.

For the past month, Townsend has emphasized ads that highlight and attack Ehrlich's voting record, seeking to portray him as too conservative.

But the campaign has said it's not enough for voters to be informed about Ehrlich's record. Townsend must explain to voters why they should want to vote for her, and she starts to do that by talking directly to them in this ad.

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