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CAMPAIGN '88 : In Iowa, Bush Leads Off TV Advertising Blitz

December 17, 1987|John Balzar \f7

Iowans scoff at the idea that they can be moved by modern media campaigning. They need to size up their politicians face to face, they say.

Candidates play along. That is, until things get serious. And then television advertising erupts in Iowa just like everywhere else.

The Democrats have been dabbling with it on and off for awhile now. And this week, Vice President George Bush started blanketing the state with a pair of television commercials.

You can call this the beginning of the shift from "retail" to "wholesale" politics in Iowa, a sure sign that the Feb. 8 caucuses are within sight.

Bush was motivated to start his commercials now for two reasons. First, it's a chance to have his message broadcast without the competing clutter of commercials from other candidates. Second, and more important, the missile reduction treaty with the Soviets has proved a boon to Bush's candidacy here. The vice president has been alone among the Republicans in wholeheartedly supporting the treaty, which is popular here.

One commercial runs just 10 seconds. In it, Bush says: "Leadership requires decisions. That's why I've worked for and supported the (missile) treaty. It's good for Iowa, and good for America."

The other spot describes Bush as the "only" Republican candidate to support the treaty.

But he may not be for long. Bush's chief rival, Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, was on the phone Wednesday with experts and European allies, and there were strong indications he is anxious about resolving any doubts on his eventual backing of the treaty when it comes before the Senate for ratification.

One thing appears certain, however: Few men who want to be President believe Iowans when they say TV does not sway them.

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